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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN

Edited Thoroughbred Idea Foundation Release — Bettors wagering on racing from Kentucky will enjoy returns paid to the penny beginning on Friday, July 15. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission confirmed to the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation (TIF) the shift will take effect this week, three months after legislation enabling the change to penny breakage was passed by the Kentucky General Assembly and signed into law.

“This is a welcome and long overdue shift in pari-mutuel wagering to pay bettors the entirety of their duly deserved winnings,” said Patrick Cummings, TIF’s Executive Director.

“Kentucky is leading the way, and if a horseplayer wants to enjoy the entirety of a winning dividend, they should be betting on races run in Kentucky.

“This will be the first time in American history a racing jurisdiction is requiring payment to the penny for all wagers and we hope it will not be the last. This should put more money in the hands and accounts of horseplayers and inspire additional churn, something everyone across the sport should seek, yet remarkably eludes us as churn-killing super exotic bets and jackpot bets have expanded.

“We are incredibly thankful for the efforts of Kentucky Representative Adam Koenig, bill co-sponsor Representative Al Gentry and Senator Damon Thayer for their support over the years to bring this topic to the fore. They continue to look out for the best interests of horseplayers and the greater sport.”

For the modern history of pari-mutuel wagering in American racing, winning dividends have generally been rounded to the lowest ten-cent unit, with limited exceptions. Going forward, the dividend is rounded to the lowest penny.

Until now, if the unbroken return on a show bet was $1.4854928, the return for every $1 unit was rounded down to $1.40. A $2 bet returned $2.80.

Beginning Friday, in the above example a winning bettor would receive $1.48 for every $1. A $2 bet in this example would return $2.96, a meaningful increase in the profit returned to customers.

The campaign to bring penny breakage to horseplayers was the topic of the first white paper in TIF history. It can be reviewed by clicking here.

Cummings said: “This effort would not have been possible without the tireless support of TIF Founder and Glen Hill Farm President & CEO Craig Bernick, who has been so remarkably driven to improve American horse racing for its voluntary financial participants – horseplayers and horse owners. If we make the sport better for them, the benefits trickle to every corner of the industry.”

An estimated $35 million was collected and retained as breakage from Kentucky races over the last five, full fiscal years. Under the new law, nearly all of that money would go back to winning bettors.

“Breaking to the penny will put millions of dollars back into the hands of horseplayers each year, wherever they are betting on Kentucky racing,” Cummings added. “Until other states make the change, Kentucky will have the advantage.”

Kentucky tracks and horsemen split on-track breakage in the past, while off-track bets and ADW bets saw breakage retained by the respective bet-taker. Going forward, all bettors of races run in Kentucky will enjoy a full winning dividend rounded to the penny. Sub-penny breakage will still be retained.

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