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Reduce betting tax and govt will get more I ADC

Posted on - 17 Mar 2017

Reduce betting tax and govt will get more
Afternoon Despatch & Courier
In Karnataka, the government has reduced the betting tax. Result: it is gettingmore revenue. In Mumbai, the betting tax is very high: the government gets less by way of tax and the RWITC faces a cash crunch. Mr. Vivek Jain in an interview to ADC answers questions and explains the problems faced by the club. Mr. Vivek Jain, like his father S.C. Jain, is a hard-working, competent chairman of the RWITC. Things move smoothly when he is there and despite problems and difficulties, things begin to look up.
In an interview with ADC’s Timur, Mr. Vivek Jain answers quite a good range of questions.
There is huge increase in racing in Bangalore. Huge crowds – not seen in Mumbai – were there. Bangalore is becoming the prime centre of racing in Inida. This is mainly because of the state government which is providing big incentives to the club. In Mumbai, is it not a fact that the govt is killing racing. Is there anything the club can do? Please give a detailed reply.

We have been trying our best to convince successive Governments and state bureaucrats on the long term benefits of a low tax.  Discussions are ongoing. With the impending introduction of GST, we have initiated talks at both the Centre and State level

After demonetisation in November – racing was hit a great deal. Some recovery has been made.

Yes, as racing is a cash based business, the aftermath of demonetsation was not good for the sport. Though the liquidity is better, the tote collections are much lower than last year.

Cash crunch keeps going on at the RWITC. Has the club any plan to set things right. I feel one way out is for some rich club members to put the money in the kitty. There are members who are deeply interested in racing who are very rich – Cyrus Poonawalla, for instance. He has not only thousands of crores, but he keeps earning more and more each day. His passion is racing and if he puts a few crores on the sport in which he is passionately interested, racing in Mumbai can flourish.

We have considered giving naming rights for different areas of the Club. Cricket stadiums have done this. It is a potential source of revenue and gives those involved with the sport, to give back to the institution. Though I have approached and met Dr Cyrus Poonawalla on this, it is still  work in progress.

Has night racing paid off? If it has, would it not be a good idea to run a couple of more raceson the blazing track?

Night or evening racing is an innovative product we have offered. It needs time to judge its success and needs sponsorship support.

The sale of food in both the enclosures would have been a big success if the restaurants are run by the club itself. Vegetarian and a non-vegetarian restaurants should be run by the club in both the enclosures. What the club gets now is a pittance. Good food at affordable prices can get huge funds. Food is an area which needs looking into.

It is not the club’s business nor its area of expertise to run restaurants. This is best done by professionals.

The club's committee should look how it can come to the races every day. The cash crunch will disappear if only members turn up at most of the races every year. The club should look for incentives to make the members come. Bangalore was a small centre. How has it developed: chances are it can become the prime racing centre in India.

We give several incentives for members to come to the racing - prizes, food and fashion festivals, music, and other leisure activities. These have done well.

Taxmen can get more from the club, members and also racegoers if only they decide to reduce tax. But for the efforts of the club, tax would have been more. For the punter, a bet attracts as much as 30 per cent. Result: Nobody pays any tax. All – the bookmakers and the punters – have devised ways to avoid tax. The government is blind, it does not want to face reality – like perhaps the Karnataka government does.

We are aware of the negative impact of high taxation, and how BTC has benefited by a lower tax.  We are doing our best.

The racing centre in Mumbai is one of the best in the world. It has had always competent and good chairman and commitees. Their hands however have been tied. The govt. folks who look after racing need to be educated. The RWITC must get the services of the media to hammer certain premises into the govt folks.

We have always looked at the media as our partner. Several tie ups across print and electronic have helped maintain our profile. Unfortunately a section of the press habitually plays up only the controversies. The press has to be more responsible, more positive in its coverage.

Your view on what has been done so far, and what can be and will be done in the future?

We have tightened our belts across all fronts. A never before cost cutting exercise is in place.  We are looking at several revenue raising measures. Our liaison with the Government has been upped and we have excellent partnerships with our sponsors. The Turf Authorities have asked me to lead discussions with the Government, representing the industry on the subject of GST.   We are in a crisis, but I am confident our collective effort will see us stage a revival by year end.

Your other views on the racing scenario. Will be grateful for detailed accounts.

Western India racing is about the best in India.  The highest sponsorships, themed race days, big events and a superb ambience. Our finances have prevented a rise in stakes. All told, we have done well even in the face of gross adversity.

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