07/05/2016 11:38AM

U.S. betting falls a bit in June


Wagering on U.S. horse races in June slipped despite a slight jump in races held during the month, reversing the trend of average betting figures creeping up all year as the number of races plummeted, according to figures distributed on Tuesday by Equibase.

The 3.0 percent decline in betting this June, from $925.1 million last year to $897.7 this year, was due in part to a sharp decline in national wagering on the day of the Belmont Stakes. Last year, American Pharoah won the first Triple Crown in 37 years in June, and his attempt at the feat boosted figures not only at Belmont Park but at racetracks across the country.

There were eight weekend dates in June of this year and last year. The number of races held during the month was up 2.4 percent, according to Equibase. Average handle per race in June dropped 5.2 percent, from $237,631 last year to $225,213 this year.

Field size in June of this year was up slightly, from 7.39 last year to 7.41 this year. Field size is considered a significant factor in the amount of money bet on races.

Despite the declines in betting, purses were up 5.9 percent, according to the figures. Purses are generally set in advance of a meet, and purses at American racetracks are heavily subsidized by casino revenues.

Average handle figures per race have been up considerably all year, with the average in May up 9.5 percent. But that number has begun to show strain as many racetracks launch their summer race meets and add days to the national racing calendar.

In total for the first six months of the year, wagering on U.S. races is up 1.2 percent, while the number of races are down 3.9 percent, according to Equibase. Purses are down 0.7 percent.