How Horse Racing Betting Affects The Economy

It’s no secret that Americans love horse racing. While Europe has long been recognized as the central hub for activities outside of racing in general, like dressage and showjumping, we bring your attention over to the true horse capital of the world: Kentucky, whose rich equestrian history has ultimately laid down a foundation for a blossoming industry. 

Kentucky’s Equestrian Impact

The effect horse racing has in Kentucky can be measured in the billions: The total economic impact in 2020 was $6.5 billion, with nearly 80,000 new jobs in the equine industry created. Of those new jobs, over 24,000 were directly related to the races themselves. 

It’s not surprising to see horse racing take off there, though; nearly one third of households in the Commonwealth have a self-reported horse enthusiast living there, and over a third of those aficionados were minors – a positive sign for the future of Kentucky’s horse racing industry.

But it’s not just the equestrian industry that benefits from all this motion, either. According to the state government, racing was advantageous to all kinds of different fields, ranging from advertising and marketing to tourism, hospitality, and insurance. Veterinarians and hay/straw farmers have also put the local trade to good use. 

Race tracks themselves have also invested millions back into Kentucky through thousands of construction jobs. The top three have each spent hundreds of millions: 

  • Churchill Downs – Over $230 million 
  • Kentucky Downs Gaming – Over $200 million
  • Oak Grove – Over $200 million

Finally, love of horses and the industry’s increasing need for support have extended their reach into education. As of August 2021, at least 10 postsecondary or technical institutions offer equine education.

Compared To Other Sports

Horse racing doesn’t just benefit Kentucky, though – it’s one of the biggest entertainment industries in the United States itself, estimated to contribute $122 billion per year to the national economy. 

Compare this to golf, which topped $100 billion just in 2022. Or the Super Bowl, which generated over $600 million in one day for a sport which may bring only $5 billion to the economy. Remember, both of these sports are actually more popular than horse racing by the individual numbers – in fact, horse racing doesn’t even make the top ten. But when you find a horse racing fan, you’ve found a true devotee.

That’s right – horse racing is hot in America and, indeed, the world – even UK users favour non-GamStop horse racing sites from to bet on the Kentucky Derby and other globally-known events.

The Future Of American Horse Racing

The U.S. economy has had a few interesting years in the wake of pandemic lockdowns and rapid inflation. Horse industry has by no means evaded these consequences. Quite the opposite, in fact; much of it has suffered as a result of the amplification of other challenges it already faces. 

For one, horse racing gambling has been on the decline as Americans have to pinch pennies to survive rising prices in every corner. 

However, there are signs that things are bouncing back once again. As the lockdowns relaxed, a certain energy was released; Kentuckians and all Americans were bursting with the need to travel and experience leisurely entertainment. Just a couple of years after the Kentucky Derby had to be rescheduled for the first time since World War II, the 2022 Derby punched through with the second-highest economic impact in its history. 

But for as volatile as the last few years have been, it appears that horse racing may still have some rocky road ahead of it yet. Inflation doesn’t appear to be relaxing, and that will considerably change the current of the U.S. economy. 

Gambling in general may face this decreased activity, too. As a luxury good, it’s typically one of the first things to go when budgets tighten, much like tourism and traveling in general. And, of course, none of this bodes well for jobs that were created in the industry’s growth. 

To Review

It likely goes without saying that horse racing and its industry are critical to the continued success of Kentucky’s economy and its own plans for growth. But much like bourbon or any other trade so closely tied to its origin, the impact extends beyond numbers. In Kentucky, horse racing is its very culture and way of life, touching the lives of everyone who lives there; you’d be hard-pressed to get very far in Lexington without hearing someone talking about breeding, racing, or caring for horses in some way  – and that’s why every measure will likely be made to keep its traditions alive.