Licencing issues threaten summer season races at BTC

With this week’s summer season races deferred indefinitely over licencing issues at Bangalore Turf Club (BTC), all eyes are now set on the crucial meeting between the BTC delegation and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday.

The Finance Department, licensing authority for the races to be renewed every month, has refused to renew the club’s licence for June, putting all races on hold.

The summer season that started from May 13 and scheduled to conclude on August 4 has already been disrupted. While BTC conducted four races in May, races scheduled for the last weekend of May were rescheduled to this weekend owing to rains.

However, since the licence has not been renewed, these races are deferred indefinitely.

Sources said that the Finance Department was not keen on renewing the licence till Criminal Investigation Department completed its probe into a litany of allegations of mismanagement of the club affairs.

The Chief Minister, also the Finance Minister of the State, recently ordered a CID probe following an alleged doping scandal in the club and a report by the government’s nominee to the club on a series of alleged financial mismanagement.

The final decision to renew the club’s licence pending a CID probe or not will be taken by the Chief Minister. “The file is put before the Chief Minister and he will take a final call,” confirmed a senior official in the Finance Department.

Y. Jagannath, Chairman, BTC, said that a delegation from the club met the Chief Minister on Friday. “He was busy and has asked us to meet him on Monday. We hope the issues will be resolved then,” he said.

He hoped that the racing would go unhindered and the State government would renew the licence.

Not just on course, the non-renewal of licence has affected off-course betting too. Off-course betting operations for Udhagamandalam races on Friday were cancelled too.

A senior member said that the summer season races usually nets a total turnover of around ₹300 crore in on-course races and over ₹200 crore in off-course operations, of which BTC earns a commission of 4.5%.

With no deadline set for the CID inquiry, the entire season is being held at ransom, complain racing enthusiasts.

“Let the CID continue with its probe and the BTC management has been co-operating with the sleuths. We are trying to impress upon the State government to allow the races to continue,” said a senior member of BTC.

This is the first time in over two decades that races have been deferred due to licencing issues, he added.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 9:57:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/races/licencing-issues-threaten-summer-season-races-at-btc/article18714463.ece

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