In an effort to increase the number of races and stem the decline of racing sales, the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) recently passed several resolutions to provide incentives to participants.
Philracom, headed by Chairman Andrew A. Sanchez, is the government agency that supervises and regulates horseracing operations.
Resolution No. 10-18 s. 2018, dated May 23 and effective June 1 this year, set minimum additional prizes for ratings-based handicapping races, to be distributed from first to fourth places: P110,000 for Class 1; P90,000 for Class 2; P70,000 for Class 3; P50,000 for Class 4; and P30,000 for Class 5.
Resolution No. 11-18 s. 2018 of May 23 and effective May 29 this year, gives an additional prize of P20,000 to winning horse owners only, for condition races, distributed as follows: P12,000 for first prize, P5,000 for second, P3,000 for third.
The Commission deemed the allocation of these additional prizes as necessary in order to entice more participants in the races. The number of races has declined recently after the passage of the TRAIN law, which imposes an increase on the documentary stamp tax.
This law has negatively affected horse prizes and winning dividends, resulting in reduced participation by both horse owners and bettors, leading to a decline in sales.
A decline in racing sales also means a corresponding decline in government revenue from direct and indirect taxes.
This is a case of the government shooting its own foot. By imposing TRAIN without consultation and deep study of its impacts on various revenue sectors, the government now stands to have a reduced—or it might even lose—its dependable and steady income from racing of around P1 billion a year.
The Philracom and the rest of the industry are trying their best to stem the TRAIN tide. The three racing clubs recently reduced their popular betting options, the daily double and forecast, to one event per day in order to combat illegal bookie operations, which are eating large chunks of what should be legitimate revenue. Bookies pay no taxes and make no decent contribution to society at all.
Racing today faces bookies, TRAIN, high cost of operations, and many other challenges as it struggles to survive. Without support from other government agencies such as the finance department, which could very well exempt or shield racing from the effects of TRAIN, this traditional pastime of almost 200 years could very well die. With it will go the employment, businesses, and investments of thousands of people, and the annual P1 billion in direct taxes.
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By the way, another columnist recently referred to a case filed in March 2017 by the Anti-Trapo Movement with the Office of the Ombudsman against the leadership of Philracom. The latter were alleged to have failed to protect the horseracing industry by allowing “e-sabong” bets at racing OTBs.
To set the record straight, the Office of the Ombudsman, in a joint resolution dated 11 April 2018 and signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales herself, dismissed the case outright due to lack of merit, there being “no substantial evidence” presented to support the allegations.
According to the Ombudsman, Philracom has no jurisdiction over the betting aspects and operation of e-sabong, as that function falls under the Games and Amusements Board.
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Dr. Ortuoste, a writer and researcher, has a PhD in Communication. Facebook: Gogirl Racing and @DrJennyO, Twitter: @drhoarsewhsprr and @DrJennyO