Horse Racing Lessons for Government from Quebec
Controversy surrounds the role of governments in the world of horse racing. It is tempting to ask politicians and bureaucrats to stay away from the complexities of sports betting and race track operation, but the handsome contributions from taxes makes it tempting for tempting for administrators to try and exert as much control over operators as they can. There is the inevitable element of playing to the galleries of pressure groups opposed to horse racing as well!
However, government interventions in horse racing are not always one sided. Operators and race horse owners also look forward to subsidies in one form or another when horse racing experiences troughs in popularity, or when major investments in modernization and upgrading become due. Many countries join U.S. locations in seeking major concessions from governments and also preferential taxation in order to give horse racing a fillip.
The modern race track template integrates horse racing with other forms of gambling, unrelated recreation, amenities for social events. Even parking lots are designed for picnics and related forms of group and family leisure. Many race tracks even have fine dining, luxurious bars and elegant shopping, albeit for goods related to the sport. No one can really copy the ambience of Lexington in Kentucky or Epsom in London, but countries such as Singapore and Dubai have really excelled in creating magnificent complexes for horse racing in a 21st century format.
It may be best if government were to provide land for operators to create horse racing complexes, provide financial attractions for investment, and award rights to entrepreneurs with proven track records in the same or related enterprises. This will ensure that the community receives a top quality recreation asset of value, and that the government gets steady and growing contributions to its coffers. There are many such successful operations both in the United States and elsewhere, which places such as Quebec, currently struggling with their horse racing commitments, can study and emulate for everyone’s benefit. There is plenty of demand for horse racing throughout Canada, and there is no reason why the travails of Quebec with respect to its race track and revenues from horse racing should continue to be issues of contention.