Horse racing clubs in India are struggling to stay profitable, and the future seems to bring no respite. With social distancing becoming the new way of being, turf clubs can only sustain the brunt of falling footfall by moving to an integrated online betting application.
As per a report in Deccan Herald, Zeyn Mirza, racing manager at Kunigal Stud Farm said, “I am not sure we’ll be able to get the government to reduce the tax, but what we can do is fight to legalise online betting… An online betting application linked to the clubs’ totalizator is the only way forward. If this is combined into a national Tote with combined betting collections from all Turf Clubs across the country, punters could make bigger profits, as the volume would be greater.”
Explaining the benefits of online horse racing betting for punters, Mirza said that currently on a bet of Rs. 10 at a 10:1, a punter earns Rs. 100 with Rs. 30 tax, but with an integrated online horse racing betting app, the winning amount can be Rs. 1000 with Rs. 300 tax, which would mean a profit of Rs. 700 (instead of Rs. 70), on the same Rs. 10 ticket.
Allowing betting amounts to be collected from all the turf clubs across India will not only allow for existing punters to contribute to larger pools of winnings, but this will also make horse betting accessible to many new users, further adding to the collection Totes.
Till now, horse racing clubs have not pursued the matter of online betting diligently, as they were generating satisfactory revenue with their existing modules. Dr N Nithyanand Rao, the chairman of the Mysore Race Club, said that TAI did not push for a betting application until now as most punters are from lower social-economic status and would have found it difficult to bet through a digital tool.
“I presented them (Turf Authority of India or TAI) with an application two years ago. They didn’t take it up,” said Mirza.
Now, the clubs realise the importance and need of a collective betting app. Nithyanand said that as more and more people are becoming accustomed to smart phones, a betting app will be useful. He said that TAI is working with a tech firm to make the app, which is in its final stages of completion. He said that once the centre passes the proposal, all the clubs with approval from their state governments will be linked to the app.
In 1996, the Supreme Court of India declared Horse racing betting to be a ‘game of skill’.
“I don’t see why the government wouldn’t want to help legalise online betting on horse racing as it has been the only legalised form of gambling in India since independence and it is well regulated,” said Suraj Narredu, a popular jockey in India. ““Fantasy gaming sites have used the 1996 Judgement to their favour and they’re raking in millions.”
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