Horse racing in Hong Kong handled a record $12.1 billion US in the last fiscal year. This, for the first time, beat US wagering in one calendar year.
From this side of the pond there are myriad excuses given how the above could occur, namely the lack of competition, dense population base, cultural differences and more in Hong Kong. However, when one compares apples to apples and digs into it, it appears to be a heck of a lot more than that.
It wasn't always like this. In 2006-2007, handle was falling, just like it was in the US and Canada. Then some changes were made, and the tide was stemmed.
In the US handle was $14.8 billion in 2007 and will likely come in somewhere around $11 billion this year, for a 25% decrease.
Is horse racing dead? Not in Hong Kong it isn't. It seems it's thriving.
Hong Kong has a far lower equine fatality rate than the US, thanks to running only healthy, drug-free horses. This piece shows there would be no harm to the racing business if the US cleaned up its act. But a cleaner, safer business would harm those who benefit from the current system, so the US will continue to lose customers every time there's a catastrophic breakdown in a big race.
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