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Veteran racehorse owner scolds CTL

Published:Thursday | January 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

Richard Lake, former Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) board member, on Tuesday tore mercilessly into a proposal made by the current board, seeking protection under the proposed Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act in a tension-filled meeting of the Parliamentary Committee examining the bill.

"The Government has already done its part by providing CTL with tax protection," declared Lake.

As Lake assailed the performance of the former CTL board led by William Chin See and trainers' representative Vin Edwards, CTL representatives clamoured for an opportunity to rebut.

However, an impatient committee Chairman Daryl Vaz would have none of it on a day when the meeting was focusing on submissions from interest groups and stakeholders.

As former CTL board chairman, William Chin See, and team members persisted, Vaz moved decisively to mute their protests with threats to boot them from the meeting.

Lake, a veteran racehorse owner who operates Lakeland Farm (under the Fortune Gaming Limited) told the Parliamentary committee that amendments to the bill would not protect CTL from its own bad management.

Accordingly, Lake urged the committee to reject the recommendations of Chin See, the current attorney for CTL.

Lake poured scorn on claims that the horse-racing industry needed the injection of a simulcast dimension at this time.

He charged that the same board had rejected the proposal in 2005.

Lake told the Parliamentary committee that CTL's mismanagement robbed the government coffers millions in much-needed revenues which dwindled from $191 million in 2001 to $41 million last year.

No growth over eight years

He asserted that no growth has been recorded in the industry over the last eight years.

Lake said while the gaming industry had grown from $9 billion in 2001 to $50 billion, the racehorse industry's share of the betting/gaming dollar has decreased over the same period from 55 per cent to less than 15 per cent.

He argued that passage of the bill in its present form would, among other things, increase taxation; grow racing with new markets and new products; increase customer satisfaction; create new jobs and achieve the BGLC's mandate of expanding the gaming industry.

Lake complained that his company was being prevented from succeeding where the CTL board failed as his request for a licence to operate simulcast facilities (was being targeted).

He said, if given the licence to operate, his company would establish high-end off-track betting parlours targeting women, young persons and tourists and projected to generate $20 million in monthly sales.

Lake also projected that it would generate $6 billion in total revenue and approximately $250 million in tax revenues, which is five times CTL's pool duty in 2009.

In his submission, chairman of the Jamaica Racing Commission, Rudolph Muir, conceded that Lake's observation was on target but suggested that some of his conclusions missed the mark.

Muir raised concern about what he described as the likely adverse effect which proposed amendments would have on local horse racing for which CTL holds the promoter's licence.

The racing commission wants to ensure that exclusive right of CTL be preserved to operate pool betting business on horse racing.

"We offer no objection to pool betting in other events," Muir said.

Richard Lake, former member of CTL board, makes a presentation on Tuesday to a special select committee of Parliament. The committee was examining the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission Act and the Casino Bill. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer