ITHA reports show challenges of generating purse revenue

Posted: Nov. 29, 2016

In an environment absent revenue from alternative gaming, the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has taken steps to educate its membership on how challenging it is to generate money for purses.

The ITHA on its website ( now publishes, on a weekly basis, reports that detail the percentages of revenue that go to purses from pari-mutuel wagering. The figures are eye-opening.

For example, a year-to-date summary of the numbers at Hawthorne Race Course, which is currently open for live racing, shows that 25.83% of purse revenue is generated through bets on the live product, and 74.14% from full-card simulcasts in the state.

On-track handle makes up only 3.93% of total bets on the Hawthorne product versus 89.82% from advance deposit wagering and out-of-state wagering—but purses earn 9.75% from a dollar wagered on track versus 1.65% from ADWs and out-of-state outlets.

The report, which is available here, also notes that more than $1.2 million has been paid to the track in the form of “recapture,” a provision established when full-card simulcasts were legalized in Illinois. Recapture was designed to compensate tracks for losses in live handle because of a shift in wagering dollars to other signals.

Through Nov. 19, purses earned for Hawthorne this year totaled about $6.16 million; more than $4.45 million came from full-card simulcast revenue, according to the report.

The Illinois racing industry for years has pushed for legislative approval for racetrack-based slot machines in order to generate more revenue for purses.

(Photo courtesy of Hawthorne Race Course)