On Friday, Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) received an in-principle approval from the state’s government to carry out online betting. The club will create a mobile app to enable punters to place bets on horse races and collect dividends through an e-wallet.
As per a report in The Hindu, a senior steward at BTC, Harimohan Naidu, said that the online betting app will be ready in two months. Post that, the club will resume races without spectators in its stands, while the app will allow punters to bet on races from anywhere..
Naidu said, “with online betting, a racing enthusiast sitting anywhere can place bets on the races we conduct. This will naturally expand our customer base tremendously, increase our turnover and also revenue to the government.”
Two year ago, the club had made a proposal to launch an app to allow online betting to increase its revenue. This move was to give a boost to the club’s revenue after it was drastically affected when horse race betting came under 28% GST slab.
As per a source of The Hindu, “Before introduction of GST, for each race, it (BTC) had a turnover in the range of ₹1 crore, with over 5,000 punters participating in on-course betting at BTC and a few more at off-course betting centres in Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Tumakuru.” Its turnover has dropped from more than Rs. 1,900 crore in 2016-17 to about Rs. 750 crore in 2019-20.
In May, Zeyn Mirza, racing manager at Kunigal Stud Farm, said that online betting through a national app linked with totalizators of all the clubs in the country will help create bigger prize pools for punters and give access to more people interested in horse betting. He also presented the Turf Authority of India with an app two year ago with no success.
BTC sources said that with social distancing becoming the new norm, punters will not be able to bet from betting stands and will need to rely on digital means to place bets.
“Betting during races meant thousands gathering in one place, which we will not be able to get back to in the near future, till a vaccine is found. Shift to online betting will help us to conduct racing without punters physically gathering together,” Naidu added.