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September 21, 2011

Instant racing boosts handle at Kentucky Downs

Kentucky Downs in Franklin ended its four-day meet Monday with gains in betting on races and a big boost from instant racing, its 200 newly installed expanded gambling machines.

Last month, Kentucky Downs reported that $594,431.65 was wagered through the first five days of instant racing operation, with an estimated track commission of 7.5 percent.

Kentucky Downs did not release updated instant racing handle Tuesday, but at the previous rate the track would have seen almost $2.4 million wagered during the first 19 days of operating the machines, or about $630 per machine each day.

Total pari-mutuel handle, including betting on instant racing, was up 176 percent compared to the same 19-day period in 2010, according to a news release from the track.

On-track wagering on live races at Kentucky Downs increased 2.9 percent, while the simulcast import handle held steady, bucking an industry trend toward double-digit decreases in wagering.

Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen said the gains in live handle were directly attributable to the rise in attendance from crowds drawn to the new form of gambling.

"The introduction of instant racing at Kentucky Downs has brought thousands of new patrons to our facility, many of whom wagered not only on our instant racing games but on our live races and in our simulcast center," Johnsen said. "Through August of this year (before instant racing was installed), our simulcast import handle was down by more than 10 percent. The increased patronage at Kentucky Downs for our instant racing games clearly helped other areas of our business."

Export simulcast handle fell 19.3 percent; Johnsen blamed the decrease on the fact that Kentucky Downs' signal was not offered at California tracks and wagering outlets, as it had been previously.

Live on-track wagering for the four days totaled $313,614, up 2.9 percent from 2010's live handle.

Live simulcast export handle was $3,361,839.

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