HRFLA Staff Report
Gulfstream Park averaged about $9.5 million in daily total handle during its "no spectators" 2020 spring/summer meet that ended Sunday Sept. 27, according to HorseRacingFLA's preliminary review of Equibase charts.
That wagering was almost a 67 percent increase over the $5.7 million in daily average total handle for the combination of the Hallandale Beach, Fla., track's spring meet and summer meets in 2019, when it had spectators and on-track betting.
But as we are noting, Gulfstream handle is one of 2020's numerous COVID-19 related numbers for which comparisons with previous years have some caveats.
This year's spring/summer meet ran from April 2 through Sept. 27, this past Sunday, and had 107 race days--all without spectators The two meets last year had a combined 107 days and ran from early April through late September.
The large increase in Gulfstream handle was related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which this year has led to an industry-wide growth in Advance Deposit Wagering (precise numbers not readily available).
It is anticipated that Gulfstream within several days will release handle numbers and other details of its spring/summer meet.
Gulfstream was one of the few U.S. thoroughbred tracks that stayed open for live racing in April and in May.
Even without on-track wagering, Gulfstream had total handle of more than $10 million most days during those two months.
In June and throughout the summer, many other U.S. tracks resumed racing. Like Gulfstream they are racing without spectators on site and are depending on Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW), sports books, simulcast wagering at other pari-mutuels and OTB sites for wagering.
During September, Gulfstream's handle numbers have been similar to those of 2019.
Over the last several years, live betting has fallen to less than 10 percent of total handle at many tracks.
This summer, several tracks have reported increases in total handle (also known as all-sources handle) compared with 2019.
Some, most notably Saratoga Race Course, have reported handle numbers similar to 2019.
But it must be noted that the absence of spectators has taken away projected large revenues from concessions, programs, souvenirs, parties and other group events at many tracks.
In addition bets made on-track generate a bigger share of takeout for a track and its horsemen's group than bets made at simulcast sites and on-line.
In most cases with on-track bets, half of takeout goes to the track and half goes to the horsemen's group for future race purses. That is the case with Gulfstream and the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.
On simulcast bets the split of takeout is usually one-third each for the track providing the signal, its horsemen's group and the track taking the signal.
The percentage of splits varies among ADWs and other sources of wagering.
Later this week, we will haver additional information on spring/summer meet handle, field sizes and race purses for Gulfstream and elsewhere in thoroughbred racing.