WITH sports slowly getting back into action despite the continuing threat of the coronavirus disease, the Karera Station Association of the Philippines, Inc. (KASAPI) members are hoping to get their livelihood back.
The Games and Amusements Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra, is very much willing to lend a helping hand.
Mitra said GAB will endorse the appeal of the KASAPI to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Management Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).
“It’s a genuine appeal from an affected sector of the horseracing community, which badly needs assistance,” said Mitra in a reaction to the KASAPI appeal.
“I hope the IATF will act on the appeal,” added Mitra.
Last Aug. 24, KASAPI president Nicson Cruz wrote to IATF Chairperson Delfin Lorenzana to seek permission for “the re-opening of the off-track betting (OTBs) stations in conjunction with the resumption of horseracing operations in the country.”
Cruz said the suspension of the horseracing operations brought misery and dislocation to the 300-member strong OTB organization nationwide.
“It is more than five months now since races were cancelled last March 2020. Our members continue to pay all the necessary fees and expenses in operating such an OTB — from the rent, telephone, internet , cable TVs, personnel , and many other things even during the pandemic, making us one single block supporting the local horseracing industry,” said Cruz in his letter to the IATF.
“Our means of revenue come only from the commissions we get from the bets that are pooled in our respective OTBs,” wrote Cruz in the KASAPI letter.
“Having seen the return of the various legal gaming operations after Metro Manila returned to General Community Quarantine (GCQ), such as lotto, bingo and casinos among others, the OTB operators think that we are also very much capable of following the strict implementation of health protocols,” he added.
Cruz said KASAPI is also amenable to limit the people allowed to enter the OTB premises in order to adhere to the social distancing protocol.
He also claimed “prolonging the closure of the OTBs not only put us in a very grave financial situation but also that of the whole horseracing industry whose main life blood is the existence of these very important OTBs.”
The racing clubs’ small fastbet operation would not be enough to support the expected revenues since almost 95 percent of the sales are generated from these OTBs, according to KASAPI.
“In behalf of the local horseracing industry, we would like to request for the total re – opening of the OTB stations with strict concurrence with the existing health protocols that are now being implemented nationwide,” concluded Cruz.
A copy of the KASAPI letter to the IATF was given to the Tabloids Organization on Philippine Sports (TOPS).
Copies were also given to the Office of the President, GAB, Department of Health, Philippine Racing Commission and the three racing clubs MMTCI, MJCI and PRCI.