SLOWLY but surely, the horseracing industry is fast recovering from financial loses after the reopening of total 72 licensed Off-Track Betting Stations (OTBS) under strict supervision and regulation of the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
GAB Chairman Abraham ‘Baham’ Mitra explained that the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the reopening of the 72 GAB-regulated OTBS in areas under lower community quarantine has resulted in a significant increase in sales of OTBS operators in the country after nearly eight 8 months hiatus due to lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In an official data released recently by the GAB-Horse Racing Betting Aspect Division, sales report from the country’s three leading horseracing clubs — Metro Manila Turf Inc. (MMTCI), Manila Jockey Club Inc. (MJCI), and Philippine Racing Club Inc. (PRCI) — beginning September 6 until October 25, shown an increased by 45.20% ((P9,923,091) compared to P6,834,010 earned from October 18 racing events where only 46 betting kiosks were online in the National Capital Region and Region IV-A.
“We are grateful to IATF for recognizing the plight of our OTBS operators and for finally allowing horse racing events and OTBS operations to resume in the country,” said the former Palawan Governor and Congressman.
Last June 10, Mitra presented the interim health and safety protocols prepared by medical experts to the IATF Executive Committee. However, the IATF Executive Committee deferred the matter to the IATF-Technical Working Group (TWG) in order to gather more information about the industry and to conduct the necessary pilot testing to ensure the health and safety of the betting public.
On September 28, he was finally given the opportunity to discuss the specific guidelines on the operations of OTBS, including the one-time betting policy, advance betting policy, and appropriate engineering and administrative controls to be abided by the owners, to the IATF-TWG.
The IATF and Metro Manila mayors, through the issuance of Resolution No. 79, finally allowed the pilot testing of 45 GAB-accredited OTBS to reopen sans the usual “karera” TV monitor inside the betting stations.
“This is a good sign for the horse racing industry that despite the pandemic that we are experiencing right now, we are slowly recovering and fortunately, based on the sales data, much better than before,” said GAB Commissioner Eduard Trinidad.
For his part, Commissioner Mario Masanguid lauded the efforts of OTBS operators on their initiative to revive the horse racing industry amid the threat of Coronavirus.