The Terrible Tout
Government announced the merger of the three separate regulatory bodies set up to monitor and control Jamaican gambling and horse racing too long ago but, as is the norm, hasn’t implemented.
How foolish is it to have a Racing Commission (JRC; 7 political appointees) to regulate that sport; a Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC; 7 more political appointees) AND a Casino Gaming Commission (CGC; 8 more political appointees) to regulate one race track open once or twice per week; fewer and fewer bookies, severely reduced racetrack OTBs, one fully computerized lottery, some slot machines equally online; and zero casinos? The first investigations as to the feasibility of casinos were undertaken by the BGLC in the 1980s. Thirty years later, we’re still talking about it.
So, 22 jobs are provided for political hacks, appointed in secret, to regulate a mostly automated industry serving less than two million adults. This in a country smaller than Florida whose Division of Parimutuel wagering regulates horse racing, harness horse racing, greyhound racing, jai alai games, card room poker games and slot machine gaming at pari-mutuel facilities (total annual handle of over US$700 million) with two directors and five divisions employing less than 20.
Back home in Jamaica, each commission has a structure that would make any multi-national corporation proud, with fully staffed departments, consultants and ancillary staff (except for the CGC which I understand has only three staff members). JRC employs race day stewards AND hears appeals from their decisions thus creating a three-ring circus where aggrieved licensees appeal from Caesar to Caesar.
In the meantime, our horse-racing industry is still the most corrupt in the hemisphere; bookmakers are allowed to attach themselves to the tote for a fee without lifting a finger to earn their profits or invigorate the sport; a company with mostly foreign connections is handed a practical monopoly on local gambling; and government revenues from the sector decline daily. WHY BOTHER WITH REGULATION?
This arrant stupidity must stop immediately. Government must recognize the gambling industry for what it is, which is inherently corrupt, and take strong, decisive steps to address that fundamental issue with proper regulation. The first rule about the proper regulation of gambling is that the more regulators you have the more avenues for corruption you create.
Gaming regulation is the one area in a democratic society that still operates best as a dictatorship. Because gambling is inherently corrupt, it’s an indisputable fact, recognized by law, that a gambling permit (occupational permits, like for trainers, jockeys and grooms, are not “gambling permits”) is a privilege NOT a right. I often tell the story of Frank Sinatra who owned a casino in the early 1960s. One Saturday afternoon, he was seen having lunch in his casino with Sam (“Moe”) Giancana a reputed mafia enforcer. On Monday morning, the Gaming Commission met in Frank’s absence and revoked his licence.
If gambling is to be properly policed there has to be ONE Don, a gambling czar who is appointed executive chairman of ONE gaming commission. He or she must be knowledgeable in all aspects of gambling; scrupulously honest; and should be carefully vetted by the police and by Parliament. There should be no more than TWO additional, “external” directors/commissioners, with very specific skill sets. One should be a chartered accountant; the other a security expert. BOTH should undergo similar scrutiny. The commission should employ the bare minimum, relying on granting licenses ONLY to computerized operations so that monitoring can be accomplished online. An Enforcement Department, led by a former military man, should be trained in detecting illegal gaming and improprieties by legal operations and should report only to the executive chairman.
The commission should be unrelenting in its pursuit of corrupt practice and harsh sanctions should be the norm for anyone found guilty of corruption. If government isn’t willing to travel down this path, it might as well kiss a revenue-earning gaming industry goodbye!
It’s time for our regular review of local performances based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” means a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside individual horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
We’ve endured plenty inclement weather recently and readers must always remember form accomplished on a sloppy track usually doesn’t transfer to a fast one and vice versa. So, for example, the outstanding effort by Kanaloa on October 21 which made “clocked-in” two weeks ago wasn’t confirmed on a dry track on November 4.
Let’s try for two more day’s speed work:
October 25, 2017 [TV -0.2/200m (Rd); -1 (str); Track Sloppy]
Yoga (-7) dismantled a strong field (R3; $350,000 claimers; 1100m; TV-1) winning by 6 lengths in 1:06.3. Her CT (1:06.4) is 3/5ths of a second faster than the standard for $550,000 claimers so she seems sure to repeat.
N.B. Yoga returned on November 4 up the 1000m straight course but on a fast track and didn’t confirm her form, running 3rd against $450,000 claimers. Fear not, her turn will come again as soon as it rains again.
November 1, 2017 [TV – 0.3 per 200m (Rd); +6 (str)]
Simply the Best (-7) franked the impression she gave on September 16 that she’s finally ready to confirm early promise (R8; Overnight Allowance; 1000m round; TV-1.5) powering clear of Crucial Appeal and clocking an impressive 0:58.1! Her CT (0.58.2’) is 4/5ths second faster than Open Allowance standard. This will always be her optimum trip.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
I hope you all enjoyed a fabulous two days of World Championship Racing at the Breeders Cup. I hope many lessons were learned. I’ve been trying to warn you of the pitfalls of backing short-priced favourites. Of 13 Breeders’ Cup races, only two favourites obliged and neither was at short odds. On Friday, Mendelssohn won at 9/2 and, on Saturday, World Approval won the turf mile at 11/4. A litany of odds-on/evens/shade of odds-against favourites, including “can’t-lose” favourites like Lady Aurelia, Lady Eli, Unique Bella, Drefong and Bolt D’oro, failed to hit the board.
Readers who troubled themselves to follow my Breeders’ Cup Previews published on my world press blog and Twitter 24 hours before each race day were rewarded with 3 winners, namely Mendelssohn (9/2; Banker Bet in the Juvenile Turf); Battle of Midway (14/1; Dirt Mile) and Roy H (5/1; Sprint). Those three alone would have gifted all followers significant level stakes profits but, if you doubled up on the Banker Bet you won even more. The previews also selected ONE exotic bet only, the “Exotic BET OF THE DAY (Saturday): 7/8/10 Exacta Box!” in the Breeders’ Cup sprint which came home at better than 25/1 (depending on where you placed your bet).
Public Opinion’s bi-weekly publication schedule forced readers to rely on my longer term forecasts Ulysses in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (late non-runner) and Collected in the Classic (2nd at 13/2; produced an over 50% profit to across the board backers).
Again, Public Opinion’s Friday publication dates make predicting golf tournaments for the few fanatics out there (Hi Mack) difficult but, looking ahead, I’ll point you towards Peter Uihlein (playing out of his skin at present after a couple of years plagued by niggling injuries) and George Coetze (taking his game and fitness much more seriously now and always a threat at home) in next week’s final European Tour event (Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player) in South Africa before the big finale in Dubai.
In the big one itself, I’m confident that Irishman Shane Lowry — another big man taking his fitness to heart these days; playing better and better; and habitually knocking on the door — can prevail.
Finally, a notebook horse for English Racing fans; the jumps are upon us:
Copain De Classe [5 b.g. Enrique – Toque Rouge (Loup Solitaire)] won two of his four starts over hurdles 2016/17, but looks a potentially smart recruit to the novice chasing ranks and did nothing wrong finishing 6l 3rd to Benatar as 11/4 favourite on chasing debut over 19f (good) at Ascot on November 4 where he moved best for much of the race. However, no sooner had he got to the front he started to look vulnerable and evidently just needed it. He’s been treated with kid gloves until now and seems likely to prove best around 2 miles on good or faster ground. One to be on next time!