Horse betting is off and running for the summer, with racing at Saratoga underway in New York. The 40-day meet, one of the premier racing destinations in the country, began earlier this month.
The New York Racing Association (NYRA), which oversees racing at Saratoga, wants to capitalize on the intersection of fewer US sports betting events during the summer and more online wagering accounts across the entire sports betting landscape.
“Racing has always had a seasonality aspect to it,” NYRA president and CEO David O’Rourke told LSR this week. “Football is a huge product in the fall. It will be more of a headwind that time of the year. In the summer, there is (limited) gambling content, and that gives us an opportunity to take a larger share of the market.”
Horse betting apps provide one-stop shopping
In 2022, NYRA handled $2.32 billion, nearly 40% coming in the summer at Saratoga. More than $878.2 million was bet on NYRA racing between mid-July and Labor Day. Last year, on-track horse betting in the Empire State and handle from New York residents accounted for $291.4 million.
With the possibility of catching more eyeballs, four online sportsbooks have their horse betting apps on full display this summer:
DraftKings aims to offer soup-to-nuts betting menu
DK Horse, DraftKings’ racing app, launched in April ahead of the Kentucky Derby. Its goal is to provide the whole gamut of betting options to customers.
Johnny Avello, Director of Race & Sportsbook Operations at DraftKings, told LSR in June:
“If you go into a store and you’re looking for vegetables, fruits, meats, you are looking for the best in all the categories to satisfy yourself. When you walk in and see top-notch fruit and top-notch vegetables, but you do not have any meat, you will go to another store that has that meat.”
PointsBet sees horse betting as essential offering
PointsBet Racing also launched in time for Kentucky Derby betting. In an email statement, PointsBet’s SVP of Corporate Development, Paul Hannon, shared a similar sentiment with LSR.
“Horse racing is the third leg of the product stool, alongside (online sports betting) and iGaming,” Hannon said. “It is also a foundational block of the US gaming ecosystem. Racing is currently an undervalued content offering of paramount importance to any top-tier operator’s ambitions.”
Horse betting by the numbers
More summer wagering dollars went to sports and online casino betting last year. In August 2022 alone, sports betting produced $4.9 billion in nationwide handle, while horseplayers spent $1.19 billion.
|Saratoga horse betting
|Horse betting (August 2022)
|Sports betting (August 2022)
Sports betting in NY produced $15 billion in total 2022 handle, nearly seven times more than NYRA’s $2.32 billion annual total.
Online sports betting is legal in 24 states and Washington, DC.
More races = more time engaged?
With the expansion of US online sports betting, the growing database of customers, and mainstream media partnerships, customers are being exposed to more horse betting. The constant availability of horse betting and iGaming is notable compared to sports betting.
“Racing takes place every day. It starts early in the day and goes to late at night. Sports, most of the time during the week, starts early in the evening. You get about a four-hour, five-hour window of sports,” Avello said.
Parimutuel horse betting is available in more than three dozen states including California and Florida, where online sports betting is unavailable.
“The American public is being reintroduced to horse racing as a general form of mainstream wager-tainment,” Hannon said. “There is an appetite for such always-on, event-based content. iGaming lags to deliver revenue and profit on a national scale due to stalled state-by-state legalization, further highlighting the value and need for a top-tier racing product.”
Online casino betting by the numbers
Last summer, iGaming was available in six states:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
In August 2022, those six states combined for $427.2 million in iGaming revenue, which includes direct revenue from online slots and table games. The revenue figure also consists of the rake, or commission, taken by online poker sites in those states.
Creating more horse betting content
Part of this initial phase of the DK Horse launch is providing customers with as much betting content as possible.
“The goal is to offer the entertainment pretty much 12 to 14 hours per day,” Avello said. “Horse racing has struggled over the last 10 years or so. The younger generation has been reluctant to pick it up. Our goal is to reverse that and get our people on the DK platform to be horseplayers too.”
O’Rourke believes the key for NYRA is placing racing content where the sports betting public will see it. NYRA has sports betting partnerships with BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook. New York racing is also broadcast on FOX Sports throughout the year.
“What we are really getting into is the distribution of content. If you think of the (race) track, we’re producing content,” he said. “The integration we can achieve through our broadcast (partnership with FOX Sports) is a new dynamic.”
Evolving tech for horse betting apps
FanDuel Racing is built directly into the FanDuel Sportsbook app and features shared-wallet technology. Customers can use a single deposit across FanDuel’s horse racing, sports betting, and online casino offerings.
DK Horse and Caesars Racebook are separate from their respective sportsbook apps and require a new registration. PointsBet Racing is also a separate app; however, PointsBet Sportsbook users can access the racing app using that same log-in.
O’Rourke believes FanDuel serves as the litmus test with its shared wallet technology.
“We want to be in the store with all the other products. As the market evolves over the next few years, we expect everyone to follow along and have horse racing side-by-side with all the other sports,” he said.
Integrating the horse racing app into the DraftKings Sportsbook app is coming, too. However, when asked by LSR, Avello did not provide a specific timeframe for completion.