BANGALORE: The turnover on the Tote betting at the Bangalore Turf Club has shown an increase of about `80 lakh last Sunday for off-course betting on Mumbai races as bookmakers kept away in protest against steep hike in taxes imposed on them by the Karnataka government.
Bookmakers in Bangalore and Mysore did not operate for a couple of off-course betting days to protest against the minimum guaranteed amount that they have to pay per race day as per the new budget proposals.
The amount per day for accepting bets on Mumbai races has been treated as being on par with on-course races during summer and winter seasons. As such, bookies have been forced to pay `35,000 instead of `25,000 hitherto.
The amount per day has been hiked substantially for some centres like Mysore also from `8,000 per day from April 1.
Bookmakers have been left to fend for themselves and appeal to the good sense of the Chief Minister to come to their rescue. No other professional wing of racing has come out in support of their demands.
In fact, many bookmakers feel that this move by the government will only serve to encourage illegal betting. Licensed bookies themselves may be tempted to resort to this to earn money. The direct result of this would be a substantial decrease in the money that the club can give to the government.
If the turnover on the Tote increased substantially due to the absence of bookmakers, it also called the BTC’s bluff in its efforts to conduct off-course by not operating tote windows but only having the bookmakers betting ring in operation for the Mumbai races two weeks ago.
It may be recalled here that the BTC made an announcement that there would be no Tote betting on that day and only bookmakers will be operating. No reasons were given and the BTC never even stated that the system would not be working temporarily or that they were trying to get it going at all.
If the volume of betting is so much on the Tote, why did the BTC prefer not to operate it on that day? Why did it want to knowingly undergo huge losses by way of forfeiting club commissions?
The theory doing the rounds was that bookmakers had made substantial amount of money as donations to the BTC to conduct the Invitation Cup weekend races in March and that the BTC was returning the compliment to the bookies by not having tote betting.
What happened when bookies themselves kept off has provided enough proof that something was amiss on that ‘no totes’ day.