Metro Turf to suspend operations next year

"The doubling of direct taxes under the law led to a decline in sales that has the sport as well as the racehorse breeding industry reeling from financial losses."

The Metro Manila Turf Club, Inc. recently wrote the Philippine Racing Commission regarding their intention to temporarily suspend operations from January to March 2019.

The club cited “huge losses in its racing operations since January 20128, mostly due to external factors such as illegal sabong operations, decline in patronage due to higher taxes, waning interest of bettors, excessive regulations and controls, decreasing numbers of horse breeders and horseowners, among others” for its decision. 

The club’s congressional franchise to operate expires in April 2022.

The racing industry is already scrambling for a solution to this development. A group of horseowners met last Monday to discuss their possible takeover of MMTCI operations. 

Philracom, for its part, is proposing a schedule of four racing days a week alternating between the two other clubs, Manila Jockey Club, Inc.’s San Lazaro Leisure Park and Philippine Racing Club, Inc.’s Santa Ana Park. 

As I have mentioned in previous columns, the TRAIN law that took effect at the start of this year had a negative effect on the sales of the racing industry. The doubling of direct taxes under the law led to a decline in sales that has the sport as well as the racehorse breeding industry reeling from financial losses.

Likely related at least in part to this is MJCI’s decision to sell its racetrack property of some 77 hectares in Carmona, Cavite, to a major developer, which has given the club two years to wind up its operations at Carmona. MJCI plans to relocate the track, but has not disclosed the new location.

All this means huge changes for the industry. Expect more news on this front in the weeks to come.

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The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Presidential Gold Cup on Dec. 9 at SLLP promises a thrilling race with a field of eight runners. Almost 50 years old, it is the most important race of the year and is eagerly anticipated by race aficionados and participants.

This and other racing traditions, as well as an entire industry built over nearly 200 years, are under threat of dying out because of the adverse economic conditions under TRAIN. The government, which benefits from racing to the tune of P1 billion yearly from direct taxes alone, should think twice about this law lest it kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.      

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Ortuoste is a writer and researcher. FB: Gogirl Racing, Twitter: @drhoarsewhsprr 

Topics: Metro Manila Turf Club , Philippine Racing Commission , Manila Jockey Club
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