Monticello, NY --- There was a time in racing when all legal pari-mutuel wagering was done on-track. But as the mid-1960s British pop duo of Peter and Gordon sang during their heyday, “that was yesterday and yesterday’s gone.”
It’s no secret that off-track wagers are important and an integral part of any racetrack's pari-mutuel handle. Off track wagers are always combined with on-track bets and that becomes the combined betting handle.
Of course, if everyone had their druthers they’d prefer a huge on-track handle. However, with technology what it is today, having on-track bets bigger than off-track wagers is a near impossibility.
Still, this past season Monticello Raceway enjoyed its greatest combined handle statistics in the 56 years of the track's existence. Granted, the wagering numbers prior to the advent of off-track betting were considerable, but as technology made it easier for fans to bet at facilities other than racetracks, the on-track betting numbers declined -- and declined substantially.
During the 2013 campaign a combined total of $126,583,865 was wagered on the Mighty M’s races. Considering there were 206 racing programs, the combined average daily handle was $614,484. Those numbers topped the previous record of $564,947 which was produced during the 2007 campaign. In 2012 fans, both on and off track, wagered a daily average of $554,398.
"It’s always gratifying when you can show an improvement over the previous year," said Maureen Flynn, the raceway's director of pari-mutuels and simulcasting. "It’s all about knowing who your customers are and then giving them what they want."