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Turffontein: Phumelela Responds

No Plans To Sell Turffontein says Davis

Patrick Davis

Patrick Davis

The Sporting Post asked why Phumelela had applied for the removal of Clause 14 of Schedule B and whether there was any substance to the fears that Turffontein might be sold. Phumelela’s Racing Executive, Patrick Davis, responded as follows:-

“The closure of Turffontein is not under consideration. The cessation of racing by Phumelela in Gauteng has never been discussed or contemplated.

The reasons advanced (for the licence amendment applications) can be summarised as follows:

1. There is no similar obligation on bookmakers;

2. If Phumelela loses its race-meeting license in Gauteng, for any reason whatsoever, its totalisator license will no longer be valid and Phumelela would be required to cease its totalisator activities in Gauteng;

3. The Gambling Review Commission has expressly recommended that market forces should be allowed to dictate the number and location of racecourses in order to enable the sport to modernise and transform itself; and

4. The effect of the condition is that Phumelela is precluded from selling a racecourse in Gauteng to another party even where it is economically feasible for it to do so.

At page 16, clause 7.2.2.3 the application specifically states that: “THE APPLICANT DOES NOT REQUEST OR INTEND TO CLOSE THE RACECOURSE AT TURFFONTEIN”.

Bookmakers contribute nothing to the funding of the sport. Furthermore, punters’ winnings on bets placed with bookmakers contribute far less to the funding of the sport when compared with the contribution made by bets placed with the Tote. By coupling the Tote license to the race meeting license, Phumelela cannot sell its Tote license and Tote betting activities in order to focus on its racing activities. If the Tote operator were independent of the racing operator, there could be no credible argument justifying the perpetuation of the funding imbalance between bets placed with bookmakers and the Tote operator.”

Ed: The Sporting Post’s copy of Mr Ramafalo’s 16 September 2011 application to the Gambling Board does not contain a clause 7.2.2.3, nor a statement saying ‘The applicant does not request or intend to close the racecourse at Turffontein.’ We have asked Phumelela to clarify.

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3 comments on “Turffontein: Phumelela Responds

  1. mabaker says:

    Where there is smoke there is a fire!

  2. Brett Maselle says:

    It would really be nice if Phumelela comes clean.

    I find it strange that nearly a decade after first obtaining its Tote licence, Phumelela seeks to amend this condition because “there is not similar obligations on bookmakers”. Using bookmakers as an excuse is inexcusable. Bookmakers have been around longer than Phumelela.

    “If Phumelela loses its race-meeting licence for any reason whatsoever” is also not a valid reason. Phumelela would be hard pressed to give an example of “any reason” which is legitimate (and not caused by Phumelela itself) that may cause it to lose its Tote licence.

    Using the Gambling Review commissions recommendations as a ground for the amendment holds no water inasmuch as the recommendation refers to “market forces” dictating the number and location of racecourses. If Phumelela is not going to “close” down Turffontein as alleged, then why refer to the recommendation and use it as a reason?

    It is correct that the condition precludes Phumelela from selling Turffontein racecourse “even when it is economically feasible for it to do so”. However, if Phumelela wants to sell the racecourse and another party is prepared to carry on the business of conducting racemeetings, it should only then make application to amend the condition.

    Should the condition be removed at this stage (without any fail safe condition) the Gauteng Gambling Board will be giving Phumelela carte blanche to decide what it wants to do. What happens if the condition is removed and Phumelela want close Turffontein in, say 5 years’ time? I believe that Phumelela will close Turffontein The condition will be gone and the reasons used to get the conditions removed will be irrelevant.

    Phumelela would dispel our fears of losing another racecourse by being upfront and transparent. Moreover, as a gesture of good faith to the racing community, it should abandon its amendment to this condition until it has valid reasons and such reasons are disclosed in full.

  3. Ian Jayes says:

    Poor Patrick Davis being left to make such a fool of himself. Phumelela can surely come up with better reasons than equating itself with bookmakers for wanting to be relieved of its obligation to operate a racecourse in order to keep its monopoly tote licence. TAB (Tvl) was valued at R500 million by the Australian consultants prior to corporatisation. Phumelela got it for next to nothing because it came with the Clubs that were taken over by Phumelela. It is the jewel in the crown financially and given Phumelela’s past record on assurances that they later turned around and said “were not written in stone” one should take their present assurances with a great big pinch of salt.

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