Horse racing in Iowa doing well despite overall industry declines

Economic Impact Nearly $200M

University of Kentucky researcher Alison Davis conducted a study which shows the economic impact of horse racing on Iowa is nearly $197 million. “I was impressed with the overall impact. For a state like Iowa to have an economic impact of about 200 million dollars was pretty significant,” Davis says.

Davis says some of the economic impact may be under reported due to a lack of data. She says in the report that $143 million of the output was generated by the thoroughbred racing industry — with $29 million of that from the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona.

“To see how Pairie Meadows Casino and their parimutuel activity compared to the actual thoroughbred racing and their expenses, I said certainly indicated the importance of the equine component of horse racing and also the support of the casino,” Davis says. The report finds the industry supports 2,961 fulltime jobs. She says the horse industry is doing well in Iowa, but members of the industry need to be aware of the issues they face.

“Even though those are impressive numbers, horse racing as an industry is facing challenges, not just here, but in other places. But certainly we saw the numbers where horse farms were decreasing, number of horses (decreasing). To think about those types of challenges where it is because of alternative competition or changes in business model is something to think about. What might happen if it declines more?,” Davis says.