04/06/2014 9:30AM

U.S. wagering, purses down in March

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Betting on U.S. Thoroughbred races declined nearly 2 percent in March compared to the same month last year even though race days did not decline, according to figures released by Equibase on Saturday.


Wagering in March was $964.5 million, down 1.9 percent compared to betting of $983.3 million in March of last year, according to the figures. Racetracks held 388 race days during the month, up one day compared to the same month last year.


The decline in wagering for the month contributed to an overall decline for the first three months of the year, with betting down 2.1 percent, to $2.56 billion, in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2013. Racetracks held one less race day in the first quarter compared to last year, according to the figures, despite many cancellations due to unusually harsh winter weather in January and February in the Midwest and Northeast.


Purses at U.S. racetracks declined 0.5 percent in March, to $85.5 million. For the first quarter, purses were down 1.5 percent, to $214.9 million. Purses at U.S. racetracks are heavily subsidized by revenues from casinos and other forms of gaming.