Does Horse Racing Need To Make Changes To Keep Up With Sports Betting?

A gambler can walk into the Meadowlands Racetrack or Monmouth Park in New Jersey — or at racetracks in other states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia — and go to the sportsbook there and place bets on sporting events. The “hold” by the books averages around 5%.

Or the gambler can make a wager on a horse race, either happening at that track or elsewhere via a simulcast TV feed. The hold for that bet is around 15-20%.

Is that a problem, now that sports betting increasingly is going hand-in-hand with horse racing?

The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation, a not-for-profit industry advocacy group, said it is, in a provocative report published earlier this year.

“Racing’s existing customers, including our best customers, will be wooed by fabulously funded sports betting agencies,” the article reads, “while future generations of potential customers will be avalanched by customized fixed-odds betting products featuring their favorite leagues, teams, and players. The opportunities will be endless.

“Over roughly the next two to three years, racing must adapt to these new market conditions — accepting fixed-odds and exchange wagering on its product; developing a new funding model to support the sport in light of this disruptive, well-financed and aggressive competition; significantly boosting and improving our marketing efforts; and innovating to create new types of bets for customers who will soon be taken by agile, forward-thinking sports betting outlets. The future of horse racing …