Purdue Releases Indiana Horse Racing Economic Impact Study

Written By J.R. Duren on January 30, 2023
Purdue University study on horse racing industry shows significant economic impact for Indiana

Business is booming for the Indiana horse racing industry. A new survey from Purdue University indicates that the industry has a $2 billion impact on the state’s economy.

Indiana Horse Racing Commission Director of Racing and Breed Development Jessica Barnes stated in an article by Commercial-News that the industry’s impact goes beyond what takes place on the track.

“When those horses are there and located in that county, they are utilizing not only green space, they’re buying hay grain feed, they’re utilizing veterinarian services, they have employees that are taking care of those horses, people are buying trucks, people are buying trailers. The impact of horse racing is very far-reaching, a lot farther than just seeing that horse race in a race on the racetrack.”

How Indiana’s horse racing industry impacts the state economy

The study looked at data from 2007 to 2020. It found there are several key factors for how Indiana’s horse racing industry contributed to the state’s economy.

For example, there was a nearly 60% increase in horses owned, trained, and bred in Indiana. That rise in horse ownership meant that owners and trainers needed land to accommodate their animals. As a result, the report found the industry increased land ownership in Indiana by 25.1%.

Numerous corners of the industry positively contribute to the state’s economy, including:

  • Sales
  • Breeding
  • Racing
  • Showing
  • Boarding
  • Riding lessons
  • Labor
  • Training
  • Feed and supplements
  • Veterinarian care

Those factors and others have kept the equine industry churning in Indiana for the past two decades.

“Twenty years ago, I don’t think anybody ever thought we would grow enough to be in a position where we would be considered a host of it,” Barnes said. “So that’s a very positive thing for Indiana to look at, that we have such a national mark that we can host those prestigious races here.”

2008 law led to a horse racing boom in Indiana

Likely, the Indiana horse racing industry would not be where it is today without a crucial 2008 law. That year, Indiana legislators voted to allow Hoosier Park and Indiana Live casinos to funnel some of their revenue to the horse racing industry.

At the time, it was a significant move. Racino slots were generating more than $300 million a month in revenue.

Over the next few years, the equine industry saw amazing growth. A 2009 study from Purdue put the industry’s economic impact at more than $1 billion. Just two years later, that number soared to more than $2 billion.

Though the most recent study indicates that the industry has continued to grow. The nearly $2 billion in economic impact is just the horse racing industry, not the equine industry overall.

The number isn’t just impressive because of the growth it represents, but because of how horse racing has fared over nationally the past 20 years. Horse racing’s popularity has declined. Betting handle dropped nearly 50% as recently as 2021, though racebooks like Caesars are trying to reverse that trend.

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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