Online Wagers Boost Kentucky Derby Takings

Jake Cooper | 09 May 2018

Kentucky Derby Figures Proof that US Needs Online Betting The 144th edition of the classic Kentucky Derby last weekend set all-new records for the total number of wagers placed on races, with $150 million being bet on the largest thoroughbred horse race of the annual racing calendar.

These figures come as a lesson about online betting that the sports betting industry in the US should take heed of. According to Churchill Downs, all-source wagering on the Kentucky Derby Day programme came to a total of $225.7 million, coming as an 8% rise over the total posted in 2017 and the previous record high of $209.2 million.

Growth of $13 million Anticipated

Betting from all sources on the Kentucky Derby again rose 8% to $149.9 million, beating the previous record of $139.3 million that was set at the event last year. Clearly, these increases were great news for sportsbooks, with Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen noting that his firm is grateful to all the race’s fans who again made the experience ‘amazing and memorable’.

According to Carstanjen, his firm also expects the Kentucky Derby Week’s Adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) to show another record-breaking result. The corporation is anticipation growth of between $11 million and $13 million between last year and this year alone.

Horse race online betting at the Kentucky Derby this year accounted for the bulk of the race’s revenues. Churchill Downs has revealed that the cash handle for the day through TwinSpires, its online wagering platform, came to $39.2 million – a rise of 15% over last year. The feature race alone brought in revenues of $24.6 million through both the desktop and mobile betting sites, coming as an 18% increase year on year.

US Racing Must Embrace Online Bets

This performance has also come despite the fact that the betting site could not take wagers for a period of 20 minutes right before post time due to technical difficulties. The TwinSpires figures also do not include wagers placed on the event at many other online horse betting platforms. Essentially, online bets at just one site contributed about 16% of all total handle for the Kentucky Derby.

Considering this, it is clear to see that states looking to have local sports betting legalised in their regions should push for this legalisation to extend to online wagering as well. States and operators who do not offer online services alongside traditional wagering at land-based locations may not reach their full revenue potential as the rise of online betting popularity continues.

The racing industry has obviously embraced online betting, and sports betting figures in Nevada are also thriving due to the advent of mobile wagering. At the end of the day, online betting services are consistently increasing the amount wagered at horse races, and the industry’s willingness to adapt to the times could ultimately make or break its future in the US.

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