President of the Horse Owners Association Lesmore Smith has said he believes government’s proposed Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control legislation will help boost the territory’s tourism product once the COVID-19 pandemic as ended.
He said that since the September 2017 hurricanes, revenue for local horse racing is mostly generated at the gates through admission fees. And in most instances, from his own pocket to help pay winner purses.
Smith said he believes that the proposed Gambling law along with gaming activity in the region will change this reality by transforming the sport from a local recreational activity to one that considerably profits the economy.
“It is going to take the region to come back up with a high-level standard where they can involve or cross-reference each other in terms of a Caribbean classic, where we can go from island to island and have these sort of activities, where it not only generate monies for the horsemen but for the entire country,” Smith said.
He added: “Food, hotels, gas, everything then moves to another level, the airlines, everybody makes money out of it as long as we go to the levels where we are doing it at the highest standard, where we have professional gaming where the purse is going to be more attractive.”
Commends government for pursing the legislation
President Smith also commended the Andrew Fahie-led administration for pushing the legislation.
“About six years ago, I was involved in the presidency of the Horse Racing Association, and I vouched very highly to ensure that we get payment that will help the sport to go to the next level,” the former political candidate for Progressive Virgin Islands Movement said.
“It was one of the things that when I was involved in politics in 2018 that I pledged to see if I was successful with my people — to make sure that it had happened. And I am happy that the present government didn’t let it go to rest. They took on the matter and they keep it moving forward,” Smith further said.
The Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Act, 2020 Bill had its First Reading in the House of Assembly in late February this year, and has since been sent to a Select Committee for further deliberation.
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