- Associated Press - Friday, May 26, 2017

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) - A struggling horse-racing industry is forcing officials to question whether to hold future races in two South Dakota cities.

The Northeast Area Horse Races is this weekend in Aberdeen, but horse owners are seeing dwindling purse amounts, the Aberdeen News (http://bit.ly/2r5mXan ) reported.

Purses are paid out on a point system that gives the winner of a race 10 points, with the number decreasing by place. A point used to be worth $80 or $90, but now it’s closer to $35 or $40, said Jerry Oxner, president of the South Dakota Quarter Horse Racing Association.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Oxner said. “The purse falls, the horses don’t show up.”

Purse money in South Dakota comes from simulcasts, but there’s only one site left, in North Sioux City. He also said a fraction of the funds come from gambling, but there are a growing number of other options now in the state for people to place bets.

The South Dakota Commission on Gaming says money wagered on horse racing decreased nearly 13 percent during the last fiscal year, amounting to about $170,000.

The only other city in the state that holds horse races is Fort Pierre. But Oxner said it’s possible officials will have to consolidate races to just one city to continue business.

“It’s getting down to a point where we’re going to have to go to one race track, either Fort Pierre or Aberdeen, or we’re just not going to get the horses,” he said.

“There’s been talk the last two years, but it seems nobody wants to make that motion in our meetings that we only want to run in Aberdeen or make a motion that we only run in Fort Pierre,” Oxner added. “Nobody wants to do that yet. And I don’t know how it would unfold.”

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Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com

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