Betting on horse races has become more popular than ever.

  • Many major race tracks have seen massive increases in betting handle during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The increase can be attributed to the lack of sports betting options available amid shutdowns.
  • Fonner Park specifically saw a 1,320.0% increase in betting handle from last year.

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. – While many horse racing events like the Kentucky Derby have been postponed or canceled amid the coronavirus shutdowns, some race tracks have actually seen a boom in betting handle compared to last year.

The Will Rogers, Fonner Park, Gulfstream, Tampa Bay, and Oaklawn racetracks have all seen a massive increase in the number of bets taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This could be attributed to the global shutdown of major sporting events, leading to a hole in the betting market that sports bettors are looking to fill. Horse racing was designed to function without many fans in attendance, and online betting opens the door to this kind of wager boom.

Horse Racing Renaissance

The stand out racetrack being Fonner Park, who compared to last year, has seen a $26,306,815 increase in horse race betting handle. Last year, the racetrack took in just $1,992,956 in the betting handle for the month of April. This April, Fonner Park garnered $28,299,771. That is a 1,320.0% increase.

Fonner Park isn’t the only location that saw a massive jump in betting handle either. Will Rogers saw a 455.1% boom in betting handle and Gulfstream saw a 111.0% increase. Horse race betting has provided sports bettors with a new outlet during the sporting drought.

With online pari-mutuel wagering seen as a form of legal sports betting in many states, bettors can safely wager on horse races without having to physically be at the racetrack. This is one of the reasons why tracks have seen such a major betting handle increase despite many being quarantined.

Total betting handle amidst all tracks is down, however, as many tracks have suspended operations since the pandemic. Last April, the tracks saw a combined betting handle of $444,865,097. During this year’s pandemic, they only managed to take in a combined $277,488,265.

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