Doing a google search tonight I came across an Andrew Beyer article, way back in 1991. It was titled "Taxing the Bettors, Taxing the System"
Whenever U.S. racetrack executives get together at industry conclaves, they talk endlessly about the need to broaden the sport's popularity and attract new fans. But perhaps their real problem is that their horseplayers don't bet enough.
Why do American racegoers bet so little? The reason is certainly not a lack of gambling fever or a lack of high-rollers. The casinos of Atlantic City and Las Vegas are filled with players who routinely bet thousands. And the country is filled with people who regularly make large wagers on sporting events. The magazine Gaming and Wagering Business estimates that $25 billion a year is bet illegally on sports -- compared with the $9.2 billion bet legally on horses in 1990. There are plenty of people who are ardent, enthusiastic horseplayers, yet might bet $300 on a Sunday afternoon at Laurel while they are rooting for $1,000 in pro-football bets.
The explanation for this phenomenon is that even gamblers are reasonably rational about the economic decisions they make, and they know that horse racing is usually a bad gamble. Tracks typically take from 17 to 25 percent of every dollar wagered, and those in Pennsylvania have blazed new trails by grabbing an exorbitant 30 percent from trifecta wagers.
It is no wonder that big gamblers in America prefer to call their bookie
and bet on a sports event, where there is only a 4.5 percent disadvantage against them. If horse racing is ever going to attract big players, it will have to reduce takeout to more reasonable levels.
This 1991 article could have been written in 2009. And sadly, will probably be written in 2029. We never change. We keep losing market share, and continue to do nothing about it.
Full article here.