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HRI Concerned Over Continued Decline of Horse Race Betting

The decline of on-course betting at Ireland’s racecourses has been unrelenting, with the first half of 2017 indicating a further drop in turnover. Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) chief executive Brian Kavanagh has taken note of the continuing decline and is working towards a solution.

Total on-course betting declined 6.4 percent to €33.8 million and Tote betting on Irish race courses dropped more than 10 percent to €4.3 million, despite total Tote betting increasing by 9 percent to €48.2 million. Despite this, during the first half of 2017 a number of areas of the thoroughbred industry experienced growth.

The field sizes for both flat and National Hunt racing experienced increases, there was an 8.4 percent increase in prize money to €27.6 million and bloodstock sales saw a 17.7 percent increase.

However, during the first six months of this year, online bookmakers handled €29.5 million, which was 5.8 percent less than during the same period in 2016. This decline is not a new phenomenon, which is why the industry is concerned. In 2008, total on-course betting reached more than €230 million and by 2014 this figure had dropped significantly to just more than €138,679.

With the famous Galway festival only two weeks away, racing officials are concerned about the major decline that is continuing to be seen in on-course betting.

“It’s very hard to see a way in which it will turn around, said Mr Kavanagh this week. “But, we will work with the Tote and bookmakers to see if there’s a way to stop that decline because I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interests that this would continue to fall. I still remain positive it can be halted.”

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