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The elasticity of demand for wagering in an unregulated market

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Abstract:

The literature estimating the take-out rate (price) elasticity of horse race wagering has consistently found values far above one. The persistence of these apparently inefficiently high prices can be attributed to institutional factors of the US market where federal taxes are imposed on the total amount wagered, and not on the bookmakers’ revenue. By investigating all horse races in New Zealand from August 1993 to April 2009, our article is the first one to consider price setting for wagering in an unregulated market where taxes for a monopolistic betting agency are based on revenues. In such a setting, one would expect elasticities close to one, but in all econometric specifications, we find values well below one. We identify two reasons why higher prices could nevertheless reduce profits: cross price elasticities are negative and, due to the specific features of parimutuel betting, international competitors may only be attracted when take-out rates are above a critical threshold.

Keywords: A10; A19; demand elasticity; market efficiency; market structure; price regulation; wagering

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00036846.2011.650331

Affiliations: 1: Frankfurt School of Finance and Management,Centre for Financial Economics, D-60314 Frankfurt, Germany 2: School of Economics and Finance,Massey University, North Shore City,Auckland 0745, New Zealand

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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