Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Trust Fund holds steady in 2019

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Aug. 19, 2020

The Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Trust Fund earned $238.2 million in 2019, down 1.4% from the previous year, but purses paid for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing combined increased 3.6% to $168.3 million according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s annual racetrack casino benchmark report.

The report includes various statistics on gaming and racing in the state. In 2019, the PRHDTF equaled about 10% of gross slot machine revenue at Pennsylvania casinos. Gross terminal revenue was about even with 2018 at $2.3 billion, according to the report.

On-track pari-mutuel handle on live racing at the state’s six tracks continued its decline in 2019 to $22.8 million, down 6.9% from 2018 and off 25.4% from 2015. In-state, off-track betting on live races in Pennsylvania totaled $3.6 million last year, down 25% from 2018; the number of OTB facilities in the state has dropped dramatically in the past decade.

Wagering on Pennsylvania races simulcast to the six tracks came in at $14.9 million, a decrease of 10.7% from 2018. Advance deposit wagering operated by Pennsylvania licensees generated $5.1 million in handle in 2019, down 5.5% from the previous year.

Export of Pennsylvania signals by far accounted for the bulk of handle. Total wagering on live racing was $668 million in 2019, about even with the previous year but down 7.4% from 2015. Regarding a comparison of 2019 to 2018, the report called the figure “encouraging given the recent decreases in live racing handle over the past several years.”

In other metrics on the Thoroughbred side, there were 26,705 total starts last year, a drop of 1.6% from 2018 and 11.6% less than 2015. Average field size at Parx Racing increased to 7.98 in 2019 versus 7.85 in 2018, dropped to 6.96 from 7.02 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, and fell to 7.07 from 7.47 at Presque Isle Downs & Casino.

The number of total race days for both breeds was 905 last year versus 906 in 2018 but the total number of races increased to 10,025 from 9,858 the previous year.

The complete benchmark report for 2019 is available here.