12/05/2013 12:31PM

November betting handle rises from last year

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Wagering on U.S. races in November was up 4.4 percent compared to wagering during the same month last year, when many betting outlets in the Northeast were still feeling the impacts of Hurricane Sandy, according to figures released on Wednesday by Equibase.

The uptick in wagering numbers coincided with a 2.1 percent drop in race days during the month, a trend that has begun to take hold in 2013 as racetracks cut back on dates in order to account for significant drops in the U.S. foal crop. On average, wagering per race day was $2.44 million this November, compared to average wagering per race day of $2.29 million last November, a difference of 6.6 percent.

There were nine weekend dates during the month this year, compared to eight weekend dates during November of last year. Handle is generally far higher on weekends than weekdays.

Last year, wagering in November was down slightly, which was attributed to the lingering damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to transportation and power networks. Race dates during that month were also down, by 3.3 percent, meaning average per race day rose during the month.

Purses distributed during the month in U.S. races were $106.1 million, up 1.6 percent compared to the purse distribution figure for November of last year. Purses at U.S. racetracks are heavily subsidized by casino revenues.

The uptick in November wagering figures put racing on pace to post a slight handle gain in 2013. For the first 11 months of the year, wagering is up 0.8 percent, while race days are down 3.1 percent, according to Equibase. Purses are up 0.4 percent.