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Diamond Mile an encouraging spark

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Gaming and entertainment are, undoubtedly, big businesses in many countries. Here, in Jamaica, we see the benefits of those industries just by a mere glance at the fees and taxes paid to the State by Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) — more than $6.9 billion last year. That, Supreme Ventures tells us in its 2018 annual report, was an increase of 12 per cent over the amount paid in 2017.

At the time when SVL acquired Caymanas Park by way of divestment from the Government we had commented in this space that the company, which turned the popular but unregulated Jamaican pastime of 'drop-hand' into the highly successful Cash Pot game, had the opportunity of creating new revenue streams for itself and the country.

Over the past four years, SVL has partnered with the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) and other sponsors to stage the richest and arguably most prestigious horse racing event in Jamaica — the Diamond Mile.

In two days' time, Jamaica, and indeed the world, will witness the fifth staging of the Diamond Mile.

The purse for the race is US$115,000 (more than J$14 million).

In their wisdom, SVL and the BGLC have expanded this year's event to a weekend of racing, starting tomorrow with an 11-race card, while the Diamond Mile race itself will be contested on Saturday.

Tomorrow's meet will feature two major races — the BGLC Trophy and the SVL Trophy, offering purses of $1,400,000 and $1,333,000, respectively. Each purse, we are told, amounts to $400,000 more than the regular payout, first by the promoting company, and second for the grouping of horses that will contest the SVL Trophy.

This, we believe, is good news for punters and the local horse racing industry in general. For it all combines to attract more people to the 'Sport of Kings', increase earnings for all stakeholders, and help to promote Jamaica as a horse racing destination in the global tourism industry.

While we accept that the tourism aspect will require more intense marketing and promotion, we are encouraged by the contribution that events like the Diamond Mile can make to horse racing's impact on Jamaica's economy.

Indeed, no one can successfully challenge the fact that since the advent of the Diamond Mile the betting public has responded by tilting the tote board to its highest level on any one race day.

Without doubt, the event has reignited public interest in horse racing, a development that was voiced by Mr Fabian White, president of the Grooms' Association of Jamaica, in the October 29 edition of this newspaper's specialist horse racing publication The Supreme Racing Guide. Mr White, while reflecting on the 2017 staging of the Diamond Mile, said “That year, in all my time coming to the racetrack, I have never seen so many people before.”

The promoters of horse racing now need to capitalise on that bounce in order to ensure that the industry provides even more economic benefits to the thousands of Jamaicans who already make a living from it and, indeed, the country in general.