JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's horse racing industry is set for a major overhaul following a meeting of key industry players to solve the impasse in the battling industry.
JSE-listed Phumelela Gaming and Leisure said in a statement that the meeting discussed the creation of a single body that would oversee the horse racing industry in South Africa.
The group said additional due diligence, process and consultation still have to be researched in order to explore this feasibility.
“In this regard, a horse racing industry restructure committee is in the process of being established, together with the terms of reference for such a committee, which will involve, among other things, researching and recommending potential strategies and opportunities for the industry,” Phumelela said.
“Phumelela Gaming & Leisure Limited is viewed by many in the industry as pre-eminent in the South African racing and gaming environment. As such, in order for the industry to succeed, this body also needs to succeed. The executives of Phumelela, Gold Circle and Kenilworth Racing have largely indicated that they are in support of the above initiatives.”
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in May hit out at the race horsing industry for lack of transformation and ordered the Gauteng Gambling Board to investigate state-owned assets bought by listed Mkhwebane, in a report on horse racing in Phumelela.
Mkhwebane in a report also said the 50 percent bookmakers’ levy, which is paid to Phumelela by the Gauteng Gambling Board, to be stopped and channelled to a new entity that will serve as the regulator for thoroughbred horse racing in the country.
The investigation by Mkhwebane followed a complaint by businessperson Phindi Kema that a 1997 decision by the Gauteng provincial government to privatise and restructure the horse racing sector in the province was illegitimate.
Phumelela has since approached the courts to set aside Mkhwebane’s report, and this month obtained an interdict to stop the implementation of the remedial actions until the courts have pronounced on the matter.
Phumelela once again called for the government to rethink the recent amendments to the Gauteng’s Gambling Regulations in respect of the distribution of the tax levied on punters’ winnings. It said the policy was damaging and harmful for the horse racing industry and would create liquidity constraints.
“The unilateral removal of the distribution of a portion of the tax levied on punters’ winnings by the Gauteng Gambling Board will create an almost insurmountable problem for the operators. We would urge that the authorities reconsider this decision in the interest of all employees of the industry.”
South Africa’s horse racing industry contributes about R3 billion annually to gross domestic product.