Near the bar of the hippodrome of Vincennes, in the month of November, a few regulars, men with graying hair, bet eyes fixed on the screens lined up along the hall. The race just finished on the track, but the screens already show a another.

” Must be this short “, as said by Fabrice Douville, the commissioner-general of the premises. Hear it : it is betting. The race at the trot, mainly funded by paris, sees his bets fall dangerously for three consecutive years. In 2010, the sports betting and online horse have been opened to competition, resulting in a loss of revenue to the Pari-mutuel urbain (PMU) of 1.2 billion euros between 2011 and 2014. The year 2016 is already experiencing a decline of 1.6 % of the issues compared to 2015. Enough to frighten the industry.

“A horse race, it is expensive”

The world of betting has changed. Now, it is betting on the Internet, at any time, and rather on the next football match on a horse. Today, half of the customers of the PMU betting on mobile. This situation has forced the company that organizes the races, the Trot, to change its strategy.

The idea ? Organize great races, with jockeys headliners, who will turn paris. It is necessary “to create our champions League to us,” says Agnès Bazin, head of marketing at the Trot. In the Face of the multiplicity of the offer, it is necessary to make the horse race less technical, more readable for new players. She “put on the couple horse-jockey” to do so. On the channel Equidia, which televises the races, exit the coach and the owner : only the winning horse and his jockey now occupy the screen.

To make matters worse, the races are abandoned in favor of games more simple and more regular. “Games like the Amigo, it is two draws every five minutes, between 6 p.m. and midnight,” says Guillaume Maupas, technical director of the Trot. “One cannot compress the schedule of races in the beyond. We need other levers of growth to diversify the punters. “After all, the lotto, it costs nothing. The horse, with its racecourses, its cashiers, its veterinarians, represent a larger cost. the

” A horse race, it is expensive. Between the cost of purchase, maintenance, and training, it is necessary to invest, “says Pierre Vercruysse, a” crack driver “, two times second in the Prix d’amérique, almost 2,000 wins to his credit. “It is you who advance all costs and you can’t know if you’re going to win. “The great uncertainty, which occurs at all levels of the value chain, helps make the difficult job.

“living hope”

Nicolas Delaroche, a young “driver” [jockey trot in harness], has decided to stop. At 24, he will join soon the infantry of the army. It stops because it is ” clogged “. As an apprentice, the races were within his reach. By becoming a professional, he runs on the same meetings that the ” cracks “, which have been buying up everything. “As a young driver, it was not the time to assert themselves “, he complained.

” The competition became so sharp that many of the horses became fair or means. About 50 horses there are 3 or 4 that stand out from the pack, ” confirms Pierre Vercruysse. The others will not run at Vincennes, where are the meetings to the most prestigious. Gold in the racetracks from the provinces, there is less money to win.

” Everyone realizes that the decline of the issues can have an impact on allocations “, stresses Stéphane Meunier, vice-president of the Union of coaches, trainers, drivers and jockeys trot (SEDJ). This Wednesday, November 9, far from Vincennes, in Caen, in the cradle of the trotter in French, he participated in a “meeting” breeding (a series of races made to give a second chance to horses that are little victorious). These meetings are more expensive than what they report. “If the stakes are lower, there will be more of this type of meetings and there will be less horses,” he warns.

” Before there were enthusiasts, restorers, craftsmen who were the owners… All of them no longer have the means. “

The rise of the value-added tax (VAT), in 2013, 7% of the normal rate of 19.6 % due to a decision of the Court of justice of the european Union has also weakened the professionals. In the stables of Caen, Jean-Rémy Launois, a young trainer-driver, face still covered with sand, says : “Before, there were enthusiasts, restorers, craftsmen who were the owners… all of them no longer have the means. “As a result, coaches will no longer receive as much pension for horses, and are naked in the face of their luck.

This situation is driving a lot of coaches stop before you get into debt. Jean-Rémy Launois does not hide that he has thought about it, after having accumulated, in may, 120 000 euros of debt. It does the survival of its activities to a handful of victories, in Paris. “We live in hope. “

“At the end of the logic, there are horses virtual”

The chain Equidia has started to broadcast the races of Chile or Singapore when the French return to the box, in order to still reap still more issues. “It is the loss of our identity,” said Stéphane Meunier. “But here, today a race in France it costs them money, while a race in Chile they pay just the rights of television broadcast. “For these coaches, this contributes only a little more to make it invisible to the chain.

In the great hall of the hippodrome was almost empty of Caen, a man approaches and slides a ticket to a regular. A tip for the next race. Sylvain Cabioc’h, this race-goer to the first time, remembers that he came every day when he was young, rather than going to class. It was always full. Today, he says, the guys who bet never came in a racecourse. Bets are nothing more than ” numbers “. “We can only speculate as on a stock exchange but there are more horses. At the end of the logic, there are the horses, virtual that cost nothing, which merely report. “

It is true, on the small screens, in bars, with lotto players and gamblers of foot and horse, it is sometimes not far from believing that the horses ‘”smoke” on the track are not real. Soon to open in the hippodrome of Vincennes a new ” space digital “, huge screen that displays already a promise : “Enter into a new world. “

By Pia Bou Acar, Damien Mestre, Aurélien Péroumal, Nasturtium Truong.

This article has been produced within the framework of the project World Academy, organized by The World by 2016. Here you can find the articles the other teams.