MUMBAI: The state’s decision to allow horse racing activities from Sunday at the Mahalaxmi Race Course with a 600-spectator limit has revived Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) chairman Zavaray Poonawalla’s hopes of bringing glory days back for racing in the city.
RWITC’s cash reserves have almost dried up since racing was halted last March due to the pandemic and the BMC’s decision to house a jumbo Covid-19 facility there aggravated the club’s problems as it put an end to related activities on premises.
RWITC banking on online betting, lower commission
Members of the committee have kept a major portion of their own business responsibilities aside and are working relentlessly to see that our club comes out of its most difficult time ever,” Poonawalla told TOI on Saturday.
Proximity to the Covid-19 facility forced restaurants such as Gallops and Tote On The Turf to stop functioning, and there were no takers for the turf club’s lawns for weddings and other social and entertainment events.
“Our reserves are badly hit,” Poonawalla said. “There has been virtually no revenue in the past 12 months.”
Poonawalla is banking on a slew of measures taken up by RWITC, including securing permissions for online betting and reducing its commissions significantly on betting to attract good collections.
Poonawalla has also been working hard to get the goods and services tax (GST) reduced and is hopeful of a favourable cut. “We will come out of these rough waters if my efforts on the GST reform come through, which will help all our clubs in India fly high and add more revenue to the government’s coffers,” he added.
Poonawalla further informed bookmakers are expected to return some time in March. The Indian Derby, the most famous race in the country, will be held on March 28.