Philracom, MJCI respond
THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - October 26, 2019 - 12:00am

The Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) and Manila Jockey Club, Inc. (MJCI) have responded to complaints by Off-Track Betting Station (OTBS) operators which were published in this column on Sept. 21. The piece detailed comments from OTB operators about how the horse-racing industry has declined, and how other competitive forces have hampered their ability to earn revenue at a time when they need it more.

The Philracom letter also made reference to our Aug. 12 column on the dramatic drop in revenue in Philippine horse racing. Philracom took exception to the columns’ comments on its responsibility in the depreciation of the sport. The letter says that the Commission on Audit’s investigation into Philracom was prompted by no other reason than COA’s regular performing its duty. The letter, however, does not explain what COA found. Philracom also tooted its horn regarding being transparent with authorities.

“In truth and in fact, it is the Commission that continues to bring to the attention of various government agencies and the Congress the dire condition of the industry and its stakeholders as a result of the passage of the TRAIN law doubling the rate of documentary stamp tax.”

Philracom is therefore saying that they are part of the solution, not part of the problem. 

MJCI, meanwhile, is the parent company of Manila Cockers Club (MCCI), which operates Off-Cockpit Betting Stations (OCBS) or online sabong. 

“MJCI and its OCBS operate legally under existing laws, notably: PD 449, as amended by the Local Government Code of 1991, and the E-Commerce Act of 2000. Pursuant to said laws, a valid and existing license was issued to MCCI, authorizing it to broadcast live cockfights to its OCBS when bets are being offered and taken. Under the E-Commerce Act, the bets placed in the OCBS are deemed transacted and received in the licensed cockpit of MCCI.”

However, this does not consider that some local governments do object to and resist online sabong, or any kind of gambling, to begin with.

The MJCI letter also states that on Oct. 2, Karera Stations Association of the Philippines (KASAPI) president Nicson Cruz wrote a letter denying that he made comments against Off-Cockpit Betting (OCBS) in that Sept. 21 column. 

Apparently, Cruz, who was among those OTBS operators who approached this writer to air KASAPI’s complaints, received some backlash as a result of the piece. However, this writer merely cited OCBS as another factor in the decline of OTBS, not quoting Cruz on that point.To wit, in my own words:

“Aside from these major problems, the larger concerns are the deep slide in revenues of horse racing, the departure from the business of many long-time horse owners, and the infiltration of cockfighting (sabong) into many KASAPI members. A group of them were even encouraged by a past Metro Manila mayor to form a separate group for sabong betting stations, a clear conflict or interest.”

MJCI also discusses at length how the increase in Documentary Stamp Tax is to blame for the decline in horse racing revenues, and not the competition with online cockfighting. They also stress that the operations of the two are entirely separate, and that there is no conflict between the two. 

A free market economy would say that they are, however, both vying for the betting public’s money, wouldn’t it?

INC MANILA JOCKEY CLUB PHILIPPINE RACING COMMISSION
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