Amidst the sea of bad news for gambling, Covid-related closures and falls in revenues, every now and then a piece of more upbeat news floats past. One of them is Norwegian horse racing.
Due to the nature of the sport, in several jurisdictions the horseracing sector has not been hit as hard as many other forms of gambling, with a short closure followed by the relatively quick resumption of races behind closed doors.
In those markets which had a longer cancellation of domestic racing, bettors could still wager on racing in those jurisdictions where it had restarted. Nevertheless, the closures, disruption and the economic strain still meant drops in wagering income in 2020 in many countries.
This has not happened in Norway.
Norwegian horse racing was halted on 13 March 2020 and restarted on 19 April 2020. The largest turnover hit was recorded in Q1 2020.
But, in Q2, the situation reversed. The quarter started with no live racing, and Rikstoto relying on imports, mainly races from Sweden, but also Australia, USA and Hong Kong.
When racing returned on 19 April 2020 , it was under strict guidelines for infection control. There were also fewer daily races than normal, with a regular schedule returning only on 15 June. There were two records set in Q2: the highest monthly turnover (in May) and the first ever turnover of over NOK 1 billion in the quarter.
Horse racing profited from the lack of other sports, especially major football leagues, during parts of 2020. Existing customers likely invested a significantly larger share of their gambling budget in Rikstoto, while new customers also joined the game.
Rikstoto also introduced a Super Saturday with two V75 runs (in Sweden and Norway) until it returned to its regular schedule. This contributed to an increase in turnover of between NOK 7 and 10 million per Saturday due to the large prize pools. Q3 2020 was also a good quarter, with revenues in July the highest since 2017.
The competing sports betting market is now mostly back to normal, so Rikstoto expects total 2020 revenues to be on par with 2019. Not a bad result, all things considered.