Several trends have been heading the wrong way for the Derby over the last decade, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. Attendance dipped 13% from 2015 to 2019. TV ratings are down 14% since 2019.
And, crucially for a sports betting analyst, the amount of money bet on the Derby is down 7% since 2019.
Frankie Taddeo, who writes for Sports Illustrated, says the major apps — including DraftKings and FanDuel –have made betting on all sports so easy that horse racing has lost one of its charms.
On top of that, DraftKings doesn’t offer horse racing bets, and FanDuel makes users leave their mobile app and download another one to do it. It’s a clumsy process that is at least part of the reason why the amount of money bet on last year’s Derby is only 3% of what was bet on the most recent Super Bowl.
“I grew up on the sport,” Taddeo said during Thursday’s “On Balance with Leland Vittert.” “It’s really going to be in the [sports book] operators’ hands — if they can find a way to attract some of the younger bettors out there and offer it on the mobile platform.”
In the age of using the glass screen in your pocket for everything, fewer people are willing to find a real betting window. As a result, brick-and-mortar locations are disappearing.
At the sport’s peak, there were more than 300 horse tracks in America. At the time, casinos were not widely available. Since 2000, however, 41 tracks have closed their doors, and only three have opened in their place.
“Right now, unless you go to any of the tracks or to Atlantic City or to the brick-and-mortar locations … you really can’t get down and wager on horse racing,” Taddeo said.
And as horse racing has declined, sports betting in other events has evolved.
DraftKings, FanDuel and similar apps give gambling hopefuls starter money to place a bet on almost every major sports league from their phones. Taddeo also points out they offer more types of bets than before, such as a player’s final statistics.
“I hope [horse racing] can come back,” Taddeo said. Until then, he can only watch and keep betting.
The 148th Kentucky Derby will run Saturday.