Marcella Scarlett, Business Reporter
Xavier Chin has sold his 49 per cent share in Track Price Plus Limited and resigned as president of the United Bookmakers Association in a full break with the horse-betting sector whose future he describes as dim.
So far there has not been a replacement for Chin as President of the UBA.
Neither Amber Vicens-Stewart, who is now the owner of Track Price Plus, nor Chin were willing to discuss the terms of the Track Price deal.
Chin said he is leaving the industry because it is too heavily taxed and he is "tired" of operating at a loss, referring to the recent increases in the rights fee that betting shops must pay to Caymanas Track Limited to place bets at the Caymanas Park race track atop the gross profit tax paid to government.
His decision to sell ends the Chin family's ownership of a business that is said to have been passed down to Xavier by his father, Melvin 'Babu' Chin.
"There is no future. I don't know of any business who is able to pay 6.5 per cent of their revenue just like that, plus 16.5 per cent gross profit tax and still manage to keep up. There is absolutely no future in horse racing," he said.
Chin said that he has been considering the deal with Stewart since last month, shortly after losing the right's fee battle in May.
Companies Office records indicate that the change of ownership in Track Price has been more than two years in the making. In 2010, Lucien Chen sold all his 49.99 per cent holdings - amounting to 3,749,392 ordinary shares - to an offshore registered company known as Tripoley Limited. Chin also sold 75,608 of his shares to Tripoley at the time, giving the new entity 51 per cent ownership of Track Price.
Vicens-Stewart, Vikram Dhiman and Roger Malek were named directors that same year, joining Xavier Chin and Arnella Chin. Xavier retained 3,674,997 shares or the other 49 per cent of the company.
Stewart, who says she is now the single owner of Track Price Plus, notes that Chin was her business partner for "a good amount of time" and that she has been the major shareholder of the company for about two years.
She said the current acquisition deal is not fully finalised but would likely close "maybe in two to three weeks".
Track Price Plus is the second largest betting shop with 81 branches; and one of three members of the UBA.
The UBA members - Champion Betting, Track Price Plus and Markham Betting - account for 80 per cent of bets placed with the industry's eight bookmakers.
Capital Betting and Wagering, Ideal Betting Company, Post to Post Betting, Caribbean Turf and Summit Betting Company account for the other 20 per cent of bookmakers' sale.
Post to Post is co-owned by members of the UBA, and Chin said Track Price's stake in the small operation would remain with the current owner.
Chin blamed the Government and CTL for his business exit.
"I don't see the Government giving up their business or CTL giving up any of their rights fee, so I am willing to give up that kind of business because it will not get any better, it will only get worse," he said.
"The numbers don't lie. There is no business in horse racing now; 95 per cent of bookmakers business is horse racing. I don't see how they will make it at this level."
In May, the bookmakers boycotted Caymanas Track to push for resolution of its fight against the increase in the rights fee from the five per cent they were paying at the time to a proposed 10 per cent.
The parties eventually agreed to a six per cent charge in 2011 and to phase in a 7.5 per cent fee in annual half-point increments by 2014.
"Even before they increased the fees we were operating at a loss," said Chin. "There is no way I would want to stay in that."
Chin said he is yet to decide on his next business venture "but it is definitely not horse racing," he told the Financial Gleaner. His immediate plan is to "sit down and chill a bit," he said.