Final betting figures for the races at the just-concluded Sonoma County Fair show declines across the board. On-track wagering totaled $3,480,000 and that was 6 percent below 2013 figures.
The off-track numbers declined even more. Wagering in California dipped 9 percent while out-of-state dollars wagered on the local races fell 20 percent.
Attendance at the fair was 8 percent lower than last year. A separate admission is not charged to watch the races.
“Obviously, the numbers across the board are disappointing,” director of racing Richard Lewis said.
“I think locally the Graton Casino had a huge impact on attendance at the races. This is the first summer the casino has been open and we’re no different than any racetrack in the country.
“When a casino opens in the vicinity, racetracks suffer. There’s always something going on at a casino, and at the races there’s a race every half-hour or so.”
Lewis said the most bothersome figure was the drop in out-of-state betting.
“Twenty percent is a huge decline,” he said. “There was more competition with Gulfstream Park in Florida open during our meet for the first time. That hurt a little, but overall the public just chose to play other racetracks.”
A total of $5.7 million was bet out of state on the 13 days of racing compared with $7 million last year.
On track, the daily average mutuel handle was $267,690.
“We have a good product and we’re located in an area where people like to come,” Lewis said.
“Our goal is to reverse those percentages next summer.”