Bookies to shut down local racing...hike in CTL rights fees triggers protest
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
The bookmaking industry has taken drastic action to protest the recent increase in rights fees paid to Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) for the use of its dividend and odds.
Effective Saturday, May 5, bookmakers will cease sales on local racing from Caymanas Park to show their disgruntlement.
At an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon at the Molynes Road head offices of Track Price Plus Limited, all the licensed bookmakers decided that the "continuous and significant increases of CTL rights fees leave them with no alternative but to cease selling local racing effective Saturday, May 5".
The decision was unanimous by representatives of the eight licensed bookmaking companies operating in Jamaica. They are Track Price Plus, Capital Betting and Wagering, Champion Betting, Markham Betting, Ideal Betting Company, Post to Post Betting, Caribbean Turf and Summit Betting Company
Following the meeting, Xavier Chin, chairman of the United Bookmakers Association and CEO of Track Price Plus, said the move was triggered by CTL hiking rights fees to seven per cent last month, up from six per cent last year.
In light of the Muir Mediation Report commissioned by the previous government last year to look into the issue of rights fees paid by the bookmakers on local racing, CTL wrote to the bookmakers to pay the seven per cent which recently came into effect, but insisted that this be paid retroactively, along with the six per cent.
The bookmakers took strong exception to this because, as Chin claimed, "the fees are unaffordable and not sustainable."
In light of this development, he said the only alternative is to cease selling local racing as of Saturday.
If the bookies carry out their threat, this would result in a significant loss of revenues and taxes to the Government. A total of 275 shops islandwide would be affected.
Chin is looking forward to government intervention in the matter. He added that a portion of the 16.5 per cent gross profit tax paid to Government could be used to assist CTL.
Significantly, the bookmakers actions will not affect day-to-day sales on English and American simulcast racing.
Meanwhile, Derek Peart, executive director of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission which regulates the bookmaking industry, disclosed that the sector recorded total sales of $2.9 billion for the fiscal year 2010-2011 - $1.76 billion of this amount on local racing.