On Tuesday, 12 July Minister with responsibility for Sports, Hon. Myron Walwyn disclosed during the presentation of the new horse racing gate that a report on whether pari-mutuel betting should be allowed in the Territory has been presented to Government.
Last September Hon. Walwyn disclosed that the government was interested in researching the pros and cons of pari-mutuel betting. The aim of the discussion, he said was to find out the economic and social benefits of horse racing. The report that is now in the Minister’s possession is as a result of that announcement.
During the presentation last week Hon. Walwyn told the BVI Horse Racing Association: “I asked for a report to be done, which was handed to me and I reviewed the report… I have to now move it forward to talk with my colleagues to discuss how we are going to get things going. That is all I would like to say on it.”
The subject of pari-mutuel betting was also broached by members of the association last week. Former President of the BVI Horse Racing Association and horse owner, Mr. Lesmore Smith announced that members of the Association are keen to see pari-mutuel betting approved. “Pari-mutuel is something we fought for and we will continue to fight for it and until we get that. That is where it will end,” Mr. Smith announced.
The comment that the betting should be considered was also voiced by Vice-President Mrs. Karen Aaron who noted that the funds from betting will help with some maintenance issues: “The government has thrown support over the years and Hon. Myron Walwyn has actually put money into the track, but there is a lot of work, as everybody knows that without pari-mutuel we don’t have the funds to up keep and to pay persons. So it has been a struggle,” Mrs. Aaron stated
Last year the Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn’s announcement that a discussion on pari-mutuel betting was in the pipeline created optimism in some persons in the Territory.
During the “A Look at The Community” Talk Show on 12 September a caller announced that it is possible that other gambling related matters would be resolved following a positive decision on pari-mutuel betting.
However, some residents feel that once pari-mutuel betting is allowed other areas of gambling might be authorized. The caller said: “From the small picture look at the bigger one — automatically cruise ships will be allowed to stay here whole night and open their casino…I say the small picture is horseracing as a start and the cruise ships on the other end.”
Callers to the various radio talk shows in the Territory have in the past been vocal about the present territorial position on gambling and on two separate times last year residents called for a referendum on the matter.