Texan Horse Racing Industry Struggling to Compete
Just ten years ago Texas was a major horse racing state. Over 53,000 fans came to see the 2004 Breeders’ Cup at Lone Star Park and the off-track parties are still spoken of today. However, things have been declining, last year the state ranked 17th among states for purses paid in Thoroughbred races and attendance and betting are less than half their levels were in 2000.It seems that the industry is under threat unless tracks receive permission to offer other forms of gambling. The tracks in the state’s largest metro areas have all aligned with out-of-state gambling companies. This means that if gaming machines are ever allowed then they are ready to go.
The president of Lone Star Park and Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Scott Wells, said, “There’s no doubt the decline in Texas is real, and it’s not a mystery why”. Wells said that Texas is surrounded by states that offer better horse racing prize money because budgets are boosted by slot machines and other forms of gambling.
Those involved in the industry will chase the larger purses as they enable a higher level in all aspects of horse racing, from breeding to veterinary services. However, Wells said that there is some evidence that thoroughbred sales are on the up and that “Texans have enough pride and enjoyment of the horse that they don’t want to see racing go away.”