Bengaluru: With the COVID-19 induced lockdown stalling horse races since March 25, the Karnataka government is in favour of allowing punters betting on their favourite stallions online, a top official said on Saturday.
"The state government has positively responded to our request to allow betting online, as punters and fans are banned from attending horse races if resumed as per the lockdown guidelines in the racecourse grounds in the city centre," Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) Chairman D. Vinod Shivappa told IANS here.
Admitting that suspension of horse racing over the last three months had badly disrupted the peak turf season for stallions and stakeholders, Shivappa said the state government had agreed in principle to permit racing without the presence of punters and spectators in the stands to prevent the virus spread.
"As we have already lost one racing season during the summer vacation and in the process of losing race events in the monsoon period, with no let-up in the virus spread, legalising online betting will enable us to resume races sans punters and spectators," asserted Shivappa.
A ban on all sports activities, including horse racing, has disrupted normal life and livelihood of all stakeholders since the lockdown was suddenly enforced and extended, with restrictions on many outdoor sports.
"We will soon submit a proposal to the state government on how betting can be legally conducted as in other countries so that we can soon resume horse racing, with punters and fans participating online to revive the exciting sport and make up for losing crores in rupees due to the ban," said Shivappa.
The 150-year old BTC has about 350 members and hundreds of affiliated members from other turf clubs across the country, participating in various races throughout the year, with homegrown studs riding in Mysuru and Ooty races during their seasons.
"With the state government approval, we will develop a smartphone application (app) for downloading it by our members, punters and spectators to bet their money on a winning horse and yet watch the show live or later," said Shivappa.
The online betting on a seamless platform will also ensure transparency, removing bookmakers and illegal betting that thrive offline otherwise.
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