Online Horse Wagering to Provide Lifeline for Dwindling Industry

Laws in New Mexico do not allow residents to place wagers on any of the racetracks in the state, yet nothing stops them from wagering in neighboring Texas or California and depriving track owners and horse breeders of revenue, representatives of the horse racing industry told a legislative panel of lawmakers this week.

Get New Mexico Out of Dark Ages

The people who testified before the Legislature’s Economic Development and Policy Committee in New Mexico called legislators to ease rules around online betting for racetracks and help the industry that is under intense competition for attention from gamblers in the state and anywhere else get a breath of fresh air, reported Associated Press.

“There are no more golden goose eggs for horse racing,” said Izzy Trejo, executive director of the New Mexico Racing Commission, outlining that the industry is “picking up crumbs to try to make the cookie complete with the sports wagering, online wagering, advance deposit wagering” as simple times when tracks were banking on fans placing bets in person and later on via simulcast races are long gone.

Citing statistics in New York where over 90% of sports wagering was done via a mobile device, as well as Pennsylvania where the percentage of people wagering through the mobile channel is even higher, Trejo was adamant that legislators should do what is needed to get New Mexico “out of the dark ages.”

Dwindling Spend on Feed, Fuel, Wages

According to official data, the lost revenue impacted the industry and led to an overall decrease in spending on feed, fuel and labor by nearly 25%, and this decline was been more pronounced in New Mexico where the number of races and horses being bred are dropping.

David Dixon, an economics professor at the University of New Mexico presented lawmakers with figures that supported the decline over a 10-year period of the industry that had an economic impact of $677 million back in 2016.

He also argued that the real economic impact comes from the money spent by horse owners and racetracks on feed, fuel, veterinarian services, supplies and wages, yet statistics show that fewer horses were being bred and fewer races were being held not only in New Mexico but also nationwide.

President of the New Mexico Horse Breeders Association Tom Goncharoff focused on rising horse auction prices that have been setting records for the past two years, outlining that the demand for a good horse is encouraging news for horse breeders. He also mentioned the state is lagging behind its neighbors in terms of sports betting laws.

Chair of the committee, Rep. Antonio Maestas, stated that lawmakers will initiate talks with tribal leaders to discuss areas of the compacts that need to be updated.