In an effort to mitigate the adversities brought upon horseracing by the Good and Services Tax (GST) levy on all forms of betting accepted by the various turf clubs, the Turf Authorities of India (TAI) have drawn a road map that will increase the individual income of turf clubs and help them regain some fiscal stability.
As reported in Mumbai Mirror (Dark Horse column dated 17 March) ‘Unified tote betting could be a game-changer,’ several pathbreaking decisions were taken unanimously by TAI chairmen at their meeting held in Bengaluru on Thursday last.
One decision, which has the potential to give a tremendous boost to the sport, is the agreement on having a nationwide joint totebetting operation. On its implementation, the national tote operation will not only serve as a live-saving mechanism for RWITC, Royal Calcutta Turf Club and Madras Race Club initially, it will open up a new era in Indian tote-betting.
The TAI chairmen are likely to give the go-ahead for starting combined tote betting at their meeting scheduled to be held on May 22 at Udhamangalam (Ooty) following which unified betting ccould start by July. The minimum unit of betting could be brought down from Rs 10 to Rs 5.
An announcement of the important decisions taken by TAI chairmen was made by RWITC Chairman KN Dhunjibhoy. He revealed, “The meeting was attended by the chairmen of six different turf authorities and was presided by R Surender Reddy, Hyderabad Race Club’s chairman. There was an intense discussion on wide-ranging issues related to the survival of Indian horse-racing and turf institutions in particular. The chairmen were primarily concerned about the adverse financial implications GST levy has had on their betting revenue.
Since we now have a uniform betting-tax regime, it was proposed that a joint tote operation amongst the turf clubs is the need of the hour. After deliberating on the contours of such an operation, the chairmen agreed to set it up as early as possible and have appointed a committee to oversee its implementation.
As far as Royal Western India Turf Club is concerned, an agreement was reached to have 30 nationwide non-clashing race days which will substantially increase our income and also that of others turf clubs. Furthermore, a formula to fix minimum/maximum stake-money distribution was formalised which would bring prize-money offered at RWITC in line with other turf clubs and certainly make it attractive than it is today.” The TAI has also decided to establish a centralized riding school for aspiring apprentice jockeys at Hyderabad and also conduct regular four-week courses to hone the skills of the current lot of apprentice riders under the guidance of an international jockey. It was also decided to have a permanent TAI secretariat based in Hyderabad.