As the legalization of sports-betting – that is, wagering on real sports played by autonomous homo sapiens – sweeps across the country (30+ states and counting), the racing people have their greedy, grubby hands outstretched, especially in the states in which they are already being heavily subsidized. This makes sense, of course, for if forced to compete with this newest form (not to mention casinos, lotteries), horseracing will lose every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
It’s a simple fact that with but a few exceptions (Saratoga, Keeneland, et al.), horseracing’s future is dark. And they not only know it; they publicly acknowledge it. In a Star Tribune op-ed on the debate in Minnesota – whether or not to allow the state’s two tracks to take sports bets and thus further (Minnesota is a racino state) subsidize the racing – the author, an executive at Minnesota’s harness track, writes:
“Just consider what has happened in Iowa, a cautionary tale for Minnesota’s two racetracks. Since Iowa legalized online and retail sports betting in 2019, wagering on horse racing has decreased dramatically because consumers are now wagering on other sports. From 2019-21, the live and simulcast handle for Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, was down 35%. If our state’s two racetracks are excluded from a sports betting expansion, this will jeopardize the future of this industry in Minnesota.”
There it is. Again. Horseracing, as a rule, can’t win the market fairly; so it must cheat.