Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry, has implored horse-racing stakeholders to find ways to develop the industry even as they face diminished prize purses and reduced injection of cash from Government.
Gopee-Scoon addressed the issue at the Jetsam Awards Ceremony on Wednesday evening at the Queen's Park Oval.
After congratulating the winners in the various categories and acknowledging “the valuable contribution the industry continues to make to the economic landscape of Trinidad and Tobago,” the Minister told the audience that the Government was aware of the challenges which the industry is encountering and is committed to the enactment of the Gambling (Gaming and Betting Control) Bill which will ensure that there is a modern legal and regulatory framework for gaming, gambling and betting.
But she underscored that there was much more to be done by stakeholders.
The local racing industry stands to suffer a $2.5 million drop in prize money this year, and Gopee-Scoon stated that, “the current economic climate constricts the Government's ability to make cash injections.” And she added that, “the development in the industry however needs more than direct financial support. It is well noted on any balance sheet, that the industry is healthy, owning valuable property.
“Those who love the sport and are committed enough are added to those who hold responsibility, meaning the boards of the Trinidad and Tobago Racing Association and Betty Levy Board must take horse racing seriously if the industry is to be sustained and grow. I am trusting that the racing fraternity will not relinquish the objective of developing Trinidad and Tobago as the horse racing centre of the Caribbean, but what certainly must not go unnoticed, are the proposed plans, which are already in the public domain, for further development within other parts of the region.”
Linford Carrabon, president, Arima Race Club noted that the presence of stakeholders at the Awards Ceremony indicated their passion and commitment to the development of the sport.
He said: ”Like the national economy, horse-racing is also facing some challenging times and what we do in 2017 will determine the future of racing. The changes we make this year will be necessary if we want the sport to continue and remain alive”.