The last couple of days I've posted FanShots on the handle gains at Turfway and Golden Gate following the conclusion of their fall/winter meets (as well as news on gains at Hollywood Park just before Christmas). And while we've seen some good news for individual tracks it was unclear as to whether handle was increasing nationally. Today, the Daily Racing Form reported that wagering in December of 2011 was up almost 18% when compared to the same month in 2010 (according to figures compiled by Equibase). From the article:
It was by far the largest monthly gain in handle for U.S. racetracks since Equibase, the racing industry’s data supplier, began tracking the figures more than five years ago, before the late-2008 recession sent an already struggling industry reeling. According to Equibase, it was the first month-over-month gain in handle since February 2008.
Since the beginning of the recession, national handle dropped 7.2%, 9.9% and 7.3% in 2008 though 2010, according to the article. And while the 5.6% drop this year is certainly the wrong direction, you get the feeling that things are beginning to stabilize.
There is still a lot of work to be done to get handle back to where it was prior to these tough economic times, especially when you compare all years in current dollars. Posting the first month-over-month handle gain in almost three years is a good place to start.