05/16/2012 3:42PM

Tampa Bay Downs sees handle drop


Average all-sources wagering for the 2011-12 meet at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Fla., declined 10.9 percent compared with the meet held a year earlier, according to figures provided by the track.

The average for the 92-day meet was $4.15 million, down from $4.76 million in the 90-day meet held a year earlier. This year, field size at Tampa was down from 9.11 to 8.54, and the track’s signal was not available on Television Games Network, a leading horse racing broadcaster.

In a statement, Peter Berube, the general manager of Tampa Bay, said the decline in field size, the lack of presence on TVG, and the dearth of winter-weather cancellations at Northeast tracks were major factors in the decline. Tampa’s simulcast signal competes with winter signals from other tracks.

“With all that, we still averaged about $4.15 million a day, which again made us the fourth most popular winter signal in the country,” Berube said.

Tampa Bay Downs has been one of the few tracks to post steady gains in handle over the past decade. Ten years ago, average all-sources handle on one of the track’s cards was $2 million, and the decline this year is the first significant drop over that time span.

Ontrack average attendance was 3,148, a slight decline from average attendance last year of 3,195. Ontrack handle also declined slightly, from an average of $226,855 last year to $219,842 this year. Purses increased slightly, from an average of $160,944 last year to $162,320, with the gain being attributable to a “minimal decline in overall parimutuel revenue,” Tampa said, in part because of a jump in handle on imported simulcasts during the meet.