Racecourse betting ring rallies in 2019 with increase in turnover

Down Royal has to pass 7.45am inspection due to freezing forecast on Monday night

Total on course betting in 2019 amounted to €78.9 million, up 4.5 per cent. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Total on course betting in 2019 amounted to €78.9 million, up 4.5 per cent. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

The on-course betting ring showed renewed signs of life in 2019 with a 6.6 per cent increase in turnover.

The once all-powerful ring had seen turnover fall by 75 per cent in the previous decade but industry statistics released by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) on Monday saw an increase in money handled by bookmakers last year to €58.4 million.

It is a timely boost for a sector which has been badly affected by the digital transformation of the gambling industry over the last ten years in particular.

In November the Irish National Professional Bookmakers Association threatened to not stand at meetings in a row with HRI and the racecourses over race planning and charges into fixtures.

On Monday HRI’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh pointed to a 4.5 per cent increase in total racecourse betting, including the Tote, to €78.9 million.

The increases came on the back of a 3.2 per cent rise in attendances at Irish racecourses to over 1.3 million in 2019.

“Increased attendances mean more potential customers for on-course bookmakers but it is clear that people see the on-course bookmakers as a part of the atmosphere of a day at the races and enjoy the service and interaction that goes along with having a bet with them.

“While changing habits and technological advances mean that the ring isn’t back to where it once was, this is a positive development,” Kavanagh said.

Total Tote betting dipped by 13 per cent last year to €60.2 million, most of it due to a significant slide in international money bet into Irish pools.

Tote Ireland is a subsidiary of HRI and the board of racing’s ruling body are awaiting recommendations on the organisation’s future which could see it wholly or partly sold to private interests.

“All options are being considered and we will revert with a recommended position in the coming months,” Kavanagh said.

New owners

The impact of last year’s one per cent rise in betting tax contributed to an 81.6 per cent increase in total off-course betting receipts to €95 million.

“This means that for the first time the €95 million collected in betting tax receipts significantly exceeded the exchequer funding for horse racing,” Kavanagh added.

The Government contribution to HRI through the Horse & Greyhound Fund for 2020 is €67.2 million.

Other statistics in HRI’s 2019 figures included a 6.8 per cent rise in new owners while the number of horses in training increased to 8,949, up three per cent.

Bloodstock sales at public auction rose 2.4 per cent to €165.3 million.

In other news Tuesday’s scheduled Down Royal fixture will have to pass a 7.45am morning inspection.

The threat of low overnight temperatures, forecast to go as low as minus three, has prompted officials to have a look.

If racing gets a green light, the most interesting contest could be a novice hurdle where Carrigmoorna Pine – trained at the other end of the island near Kinsale – is top-rated on an official mark of 125.

That sort of figure should be within the compass of Opposites Attract, a course and distance maiden winner on St Stephen’s Day when beating a 114 horse by eight lengths.

Selected Horse Racing Ireland 2019 statistics Total Attendances 1.315 million up 3.2% Average Attendance 3,621 up 3.2% Off Course Betting Receipts €95 million up 81.6% Total On Course Betting €78.9 million up 4.5% On Course Bookmakers €58.4 million up 6.6% Total Tote Betting €60.2 million down 13% Horses In Training 8,949 up 3% Total Prizemoney €66.06 million up 4%

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