The Horse-Racing Industry as A Part of Gambling
consists of horse racing, greyhound racing, and jai alai. Pari-mutuel wagering provides for winnings to be paid according to odds, which are determined by the combined amount wagered on each contestant within an event. The increased interest in racing and jai alai in the twentieth century is largely attributed to the rise in the pari-mutuel style of betting.
The Horse-Racing Industry
The largest sector within pari-mutuel gambling is the horse-racing industry. Historically rooted with tradition, the first American horse race was run in Hempstead, New York, in the late 1660’s. Following the race, the British governor of New York, Colonel Richard Nichols ordered the regular running of races so as to improve the stamina and speed of the horses.52 Today, several of the larger racing venues, such as Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, have been operational since the 1800’s. Many economic and traditional aspects of the horse-racing industry stem from the agroindustrial sector. This base is responsible for the diversity of racing’s economic impact. Beyond directly related occupations such as track operators, trainers, owners, breeders, and jockeys, the beneficiaries of the racing industry include veterinarians, stable owners, etc. The total employment for the horse-racing industry has been estimated at 119,000.53 Pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing is legal in 43 states, generating annual gross revenues of approximately $3.25 billion.54 While there are over 150 operational racetracks, most wagering takes place away from the venue of the originating race. Fueling this development is the availability of satellite broadcasting making it possible to simultaneously broadcast races either between racetracks or at Off-Track Betting sites (OTB), where no racing occurs at all. The simulcasts provide for larger betting pools by increasing patron access to numerous racetracks. Until recently, simulcasting races did not include at-home, pari-mutuel betting. However, several companies have made the transition into cable and are broadcasting races through 24-hour racing channels. Furthermore, one U.S. company is presently broadcasting races through the Internet. Through the process of setting up accounts at racing venues, patrons in eight of the nine states that permit account wagering can telephone their wagers from anywhere, including their homes.55 Approximately $550 million was wagered through account wagering in 1998.56
The Greyhound Industry
The greyhound industry began in 1919 with the first track in Emeryville, California.57 Today there are 49 tracks operating in 15 states.58 Greyhound racing is responsible for approximately 14 percent of the total handle of pari-mutuel betting.59 In 1996 the gross amount wagered in the greyhound industry totaled $2.3 billion with $505 million in revenues.60 The industry accounts for approximately 30,000 jobs directly related to the operation of the racetracks and other agricultural operations.61 Over the last decade, the greyhound industry has experienced significant financial decline,