Is Bangalore Turf Club hand in glove with illegal bookmakers? It appears to be so going by their inept handling of the situation. The collections on the tote are falling significantly with the turf club not giving clarity about the quantum of its commission, GST collected and the dividend available for distribution. It is all clouded in secrecy and BTC mandarins are not known for transparency in any of their acts. Theirs appears to be a cloak and dagger operation.
Videos are circulating in social media where one can see the illegal bookmakers operating in the club`s premises with abandon. The authorities are making no effort to curb this despite revenue leaking heavily. The turf club officials cannot blame the police for not acting. Their brief is law and order. The turf club has extensive security personnel and it is their duty to ensure that illegal betting does not take place. The security must act first and then the police can step in. This is the practice in reputed clubs like Royal Western India Turf Club.
The turf club is pleading helplessness. It is aware who is operating illegally as the CCTV cameras give graphic details of the action. The turf club has put up boards all over the place that right of admission is reserved. Under such circumstances, they have every right to deny entry to these illegal bookmakers. But is the board meant to ward off only people who they don`t like?
The turf club mandarins will not take any action either because they lack guts, or they also may be getting the illegal gratification. This is the talk doing the rounds. This year`s BTC Managing Committee can be considered as the worst in the history of the club. What is happening now will surely find a place in the dark chapters of BTC. The BTC authorities mindlessly abolished the bookmakers when both tote and the bookmaker system complemented each other, and the club benefitted immensely. By abolishing the bookmakers, the revenue for the club did not grow and it simply gave a boost to illegal betting.
The bookmakers this season offered to pay Rs 20 crores annually to the club, but the authorities refused the offer and instead wanted a king`s ransom to be paid to them. When the bookmakers were abolished post demonetization, the income from the bookmakers was less than Rs 15 crores. As such the offer from bookmakers was reasonable. To offset the loss of Rs 20 crores, there must be an additional turnover of over Rs 500 crores on the tote if one were to put the club commission at 5 percent.
Since the tote has only shown downward slide, how can the club make up the money for its activities? By not having a Press Conference or cutting some tea or coffee is not going to help them to achieve any goal. The illegal betting is bleeding the club and the authorities are silent spectators giving rise to suspicion whether any benefit is accruing to them. The club is afraid of striking a deal with the bookmakers as they fear the malicious campaign that disgruntled members may make about them. This is because the Managing Committee has the support of those who were involved in maligning the committee members of the past. Some of the present committee members are not above board, with one of its chief functionaries having reduced the stall fee for bookmakers unilaterally without taking the board into confidence for reasons best known to himself. Any decision by this committee will thus give scope for tongues to wag.
In the light of the viciousness and internecine quarrel among members, there is total policy paralysis. The trust deficit is a crippling factor. The committee lacks standing because some of their actions have raised questions of moral turpitude. Since the committee is shy of coming clean on all matters by being transparent, their actions will always be under the radar.
The fight to fix each other among the members of the club is so strong that the Managing Committee, based on two memorandums given by the members appointed a Special Enquiry Committee to go into the omissions and commission of its previous managing committee. One of the issues is also pertaining to the expenditure involved in the conduct of Invitation Cup. It is beyond anyone`s comprehension that a balance sheet of the club which has been adopted by the general body by voice vote can be a subject matter of an enquiry. The accounts were placed before the members and they had a right to raise their queries, suspicions and everything else during that meeting. After passing the resolution, how can they have a relook? Or the members questioning their own competence especially since the expenditure for the Invitation Cup was circulated in the month of April itself whereas the General Body Meeting was held on the last week of September? Poor understanding by the Managing Committee which lacks both maturity and competence. What is more shocking is that one of the members of the Special Enquiry Committee is also an auditor. One hopes he offers his explanation for being part of the committee about the incongruity of the situation. Even the matter pertaining to the appointment of CEO was ratified by the court which the gang of four had disputed. What purpose is achieved by the Special Enquiry Committee probing this matter? To make matters worse, the brother-in-law of one of the gang members is also on the committee. In BTC nothing seems to have any sanctity.
Quite a few members of the club are openly indulging in betting with illegal bookmakers. This perhaps may be the reason why the club`s authorities are silent. The committee has no will to act, being happy with the existing scenario.
We blame the government for putting a sin tax on betting and other sundry activities. What is the BTC doing? Is it not fleecing the public by charging Rs 40 for the entrance fee and another Rs 200 for getting some chance of getting a seat to sit during the races. The reserved members stand is often empty while it is totally crowded in the public stands. They have no compunction about Rs 240 that is being charged per day to the public. This in effect means that anyone who is a regular will have to spend more than Rs 50,000 on this count alone. Consider this with the pittance of Rs 250 that is paid as the annual subscription by the members to get all the facilities that they can demand.
BTC appears to be worse than any oppressive government.
My advice to the Managing Committee members is this: Smile in the mirror. Do that every morning and you`ll start to see a big difference in the way you see yourself. Smiling regularly may give a positive countenance in the way you conduct yourself.