THE Games and Amusements Board (GAB) has lauded the Metro Manila Turf Club (MMTCI) for its compliance with the agency's request not to hold horse racing betting operations in light of Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) protocols, as well as MMTCI's pending franchise renewal.
According to GAB, the MMTCI was originally set to hold races on July 19, 2020, marking the resumption of horse racing in the country following its stoppage due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The industry has thousands of stakeholders who are adversely affected by the pandemic, and the government, too, is losing a lot in the form of unearned income from horse racing," said GAB Chairman Abraham Khalil Mitra, who has reiterated his support for the resumption of horse racing activities of all the racing clubs.
It was recalled that the IATF has approved the resumption of horse racing events beginning July 19, 2020, provided that the National Capital Region is already under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), wherein the racing will only be conducted only on weekends with no public participation.
The protocols for said activities should also have been reviewed by DOH.
While NCR is still under GCQ, the condition set by the IATF was not met, hence, racing cannot resume yet.
Moreover, GAB is trying to clarify this condition because MMTCI's race track is in Malvar, Batangas, which is already under MGCQ.
GAB also wrote the IATF, asking that the resumption be extended to Off Track Betting Station (OTBS) operations subject to strict protocols.
Meanwhile, GAB is likewise anticipating the renewal of MMTCI's legislative franchise, which expires by July 19, 2020. The agency was constrained to request that if MMTCI were to hold races on the said date as approved by Philracom, there would be no betting from the public, either on-track, online, or in OTB's.
This as GAB is deeply concerned about the possible exposure of the betting public, the MMTCI, and OTB personnel to liability under gambling laws, particularly Presidential Decree 1602.
"This is a painful decision on our part and we understand that it may not sit well with the betting public and our stakeholders especially our good friends at MMTCI, the jockeys, trainers, and other personnel. We are very thankful for MMTC's support on this, even as we hope and pray their franchise approval will timely move along," Mitra said.