Horse racing is a sport that origins in the United Kingdom and have spread across the world into a global sport attracting millions of fans.
It is also one of the oldest sports in the world that dates back hundreds of years. A long time ago, horse racing was a heavily saturated sport that was available only in a few countries such as the UK, Japan, Australia, and the US. However, in the past couple of decades, we’ve seen new countries promoting horse racing as a sport.
Even though we are seeing new regions and countries accepting horse racing and promoting the culture of the sport, numbers suggest that the sport is decreasing in popularity.
Is this true? And is horse racing a dying industry?
Let’s find out.
Horse Racing Industry Trends
Horse Racing Tracks experience long-term declines and have shown no signs of stopping between 2012 and 2022.
In addition to casinos, movies, concerts, and other types of sports and racing activities, other forms of entertainment and gambling have eroded industry demand.
Younger generations are becoming less likely to be interested in horse racing, instead preferring to engage in alternative leisure activities and gambling instead.
As a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, attendance declined sharply, and revenue declined 33.1% in 2020. But this wasn’t the only problem that resulted in the decreasing interest in horse racing.
Even though we are seeing new countries that organize high-end horse racing events like the Saudi and Dubai Cup, there are fewer people interested in the sport in the long term. This is because of the change of generation that is happening at the moment.
Horse racing is a sport that is appealing to the older generation, which is why Gen-Z’s are not that interested in the sport, and most of them even consider horse racing to be unethical.
Why Is Horse Racing Decreasing in Popularity?
Many problems surround the horse racing industry which makes it less appealing to the younger audience. The first problem is related to doping.
Doping In Horse Racing
Recently, North American horse racing has faced a major image problem due to doping, or the administration of tightly-restricted medications to enhance performance. Especially with the reveal that popular horse trainers like Bob Baffert were using forbidden substances.
Doping horses in races goes back thousands of years. The horse industry started to realize that certain drugs give horses a competitive advantage around the turn of the century.
As of the late 1800s, cocaine and morphine were the most popular drugs given to horses. Cocaine stimulated the horses and made them more energetic, while morphine dulled the pain from injuries.
This negative image of horse racing doesn’t look appealing to most people, especially the younger audience, which is why they don’t have an interest in the sport and consider it unethical.
Betting And Horse Racing
Another problem that the sport has is that it is heavily dependent on betting. Horse races last 2-3 minutes, which isn’t a lot of action for the viewers. This means that the only way you can enjoy a race is if you place a bet on a horse.
Betting in horse racing makes the sport more exciting, but it limits its potential for growth since many people don’t like to place bets and are there only to watch the excitement of the sport.
Since the excitement lasts a few minutes, it is not enough to keep fans engaged with horse racing. Nonetheless, popular racing books like TwinSpires have signup bonuses that seem to be enticing for beginners: twinspires.com/200-signup.
Questionable Use Of Medication
It is no secret that horse racing is all about money. This inspires many horse owners and trainers to use questionable performance-enhancing drugs and medicine that will give their horses an advantage.
The nature of the industry dictates that most North American racehorses are on some form of medication. Just as humans take medications to compensate for injury or illness, horses do the same.
Many of the drugs used in North American horses are banned in other parts of the world, so the types and amounts of medication have come under public scrutiny.
Many people might otherwise be horse racing fans, but the idea that money and fame drive doping persists in their minds. As the idea that performance-enhancing drugs might only win a race because of a favorite horse has become increasingly popular, some of the glory of the “Sport of Kings” is fading.
Featured image: screengrab from the movie Seabiscuit (2003, Universal Pictures).