Economic contribution of Minnesota’s horse racing industry

University of Minnesota

The Minnesota Racing Commission (MRC) contracted with University of Minnesota Extension to conduct an economic contribution study of Minnesota’s horse racing industry. The horse racing industry in Minnesota is successful compared to other states, but it is part of a rapidly changing environment. The analysis found the industry currently contributes $409.2 million and 5,590 jobs to Minnesota’s economy. Understanding the industry’s significant role in the state’s economy is valuable for future planning by industry leaders and policymakers.

To measure contributions, Extension surveyed race horse owners, breeders, and trainers. Minnesota’s premier horse racing venues, Canterbury Park and Running Aces, along with MRC, provided their employment and spending data for analysis. Total economic contribution included direct, indirect, and induced effects. Direct effects resulted from spending by owners, breeders, trainers, race tracks, and MRC. Indirect and induced effects were across all industries and are measured using the input-output model IMPLAN.

In 2015, Minnesota’s horse racing industry generated an estimated $409.2 million of economic activity in the state. Of this, $176.1 million was the result of direct spending by the horse racing industry including owners, trainers, breeders, Canterbury Park, Running Aces, and the MRC. Additionally, the industry stimulated an estimated $233.1 million in economic activity at non-race horse related industries across the state. At $409.2 million, the industry’s total annual economic contribution significantly impacts the state. The industry accounts for 2% of Minnesota’s leisure and hospitality industry.

The biggest benefits from the horse racing industry occur in Minnesota’s manufacturing, health and social services, and agriculture industries. Impacts in the agriculture industry are notable, as they reflect the horse racing industry’s connections to agricultural production. The industry also has higher impacts on Minnesota businesses than typical entertainment businesses and activities.

In 2015, Minnesota’s horse racing industry supported an estimated 5,590 full and part-time jobs in the state. Of this, the industry directly employed an estimated 3,960 people. Additionally, the industry supported 1,630 jobs in non-horse related industries.

Minnesota has 1,472 licensed race horse owners, 211 licensed race horse trainers, and 214 race horse breeders. In 2015, 348 foals were registered as Minnesota born. On average, survey results indicate each owner has eight horses, three of which are in training in Minnesota. According to the survey, each trainer is responsible for an average of 15 horses, nine of which are in active training. Horse breeders also report an average of 11 horses on their farms.