Economics of Horse Racing

The Economics of Idaho’s Live Horse Racing Industry

A healthy and self-sustaining live horse racing industry is good for Idaho’s economy. The impact ripples beyond Boise, home of Les Bois Park, into rural communities across out state.

In 2015, when live racing was getting back on track, the industry accounted for hundreds of jobs and was injecting tens of millions of dollars into the economy.

At Les Bois Park, Idaho’s marquee track, and at smaller tracks statewide, racing has a significant and positive impact on local economies. Consider the sale of goods and services at the track before and during race days. Think of the new money spent by breeders, trainers, jockeys and fans on lodging, food, fuel, horse feed and supplies and on professional services provided by veterinarians, farriers and others.

How do know this? In 2015, a professor at Boise State University’s College of Business and Economics analyzed the economic impacts of live racing, specifically at Les Bois Park. Here are just some of the conclusions found in his report:

“Les Bois Park attracts participants from both the local racing community and from
outside of the region. The operation of the track and the spending of these participants, primarily the non-local owners, trainers, and jockeys, have an impact on the economy of the Treasure Valley, supporting jobs and bringing new money into the region.”

Who is directly impacted by a strong horse racing industry?

  • Employees: A total of 535 jobs were supported by Les Bois Park. Half were directly employed by the track.
  • Horse feed suppliers: More than $450,000 was spent on horse feed at the track alone.
  • Horse trainers: More than $1.3 million was spent on trainers.
  • Equine veterinarians: Nearly $900,000 was spent on local veterinarian services.
  • Farriers: Almost $190,000 was spent on local farrier services.
  • Local businesses: More than $325,000 was spent on lodging, nearly $900,000 on food, and more than $100,000 was spent on miscellaneous retail purchases by non-local owners, trainers, and jockeys who would travel to race at the track.

How does a strong horse racing indirectly impact Idaho’s economy?

  • 535 full-time and part-time positions, including 250 directly employedby the track.
  • $9.9 million in employee compensation, including benefits.
  • $5.1 million generated through interest, rent, taxes.
  • $35.1 million in increased sales of all goods and services in the community.

“The loss of Les Bois Park would adversely affect the local economy,” according to the 2015 economic analysis by Boise State University.

How did we get here? The decision by lawmakers to repeal the use of Historical Horse Racing terminals in 2015 dealt live racing a serious blow. The repeal led to the closure of Les Bois Park, triggered the steady decline of live racing elsewhere in Idaho and squelched the significant economic impact the industry was having on our state.

Statistics compiled by the Idaho Racing Commission show the number of race days at tracks in Burley, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Malad and others has dwindled in the last three years.

Can we do more for our state and rural economies? The answer is we can, simply by voting “Yes” for Proposition 1 on November 6.