Saturday, May 18, 2024
HomeNewsMacauMacau Jockey Club pressures owners to give up horses ‘for free’, no...

Macau Jockey Club pressures owners to give up horses ‘for free’, no compensation offer for sudden closure

The Macau Jockey Club (MJC) has told horse owners they could either give their horses to the racing operator without any type of compensation or face monthly charges to keep the horses at the venue until they can find suitable transport to other locations.

The measure would come into effect starting on April 1st, after the track ceases racing operations.

According to sources cited by TDM Canal Macau, a meeting last Friday left owners, trainers and jockeys disillusioned with the MJC’s stance (as no MJC decision-making executives were present), with the MJC planning no compensation to horse owners despite the company’s sudden decision to close.

The broadcaster indicates that owners had even been encouraged to buy and import more horses to Macau even once reports emerged last year that the property was likely to close.

At the time, the reports were refuted as rumors, with both the government and the MJC claiming they would continue the normal race schedule, as well as finish out the remaining two decades left in MJC’s racing concession.

The MJC filed for closure with the government in mid-2023, citing its impossibility to continue under current financial conditions (with losses topping $310 million), without the government requiring any type of indemnity for the sudden closure and termination of the concession.

Following the negotiations with the MJC, the government indicated that no other tender would be held for horse racing in Macau – effectively ending the centuries-long activity on March 31st of this year. The government also stated that the land currently occupied by the MJC would not be used for a ‘casino’ or for ‘gaming’ purposes.

Macau Jockey Club

The MJC has been given until April 1st of 2025 to remove all of the horses from the premises, with the government stating that agreements had been reached to send the equines to mainland China.

The public statement caught numerous owners and trainers off-guard, as they would prefer to send their horses elsewhere – such as Australia and New Zealand – pushing for possible compensation from the MJC, even if only to help with transport and logistics.

Instead, they were met with an offer of giving up their valuable horses to the MJC ‘free of charge’, or facing MOP8,000 ($990) in monthly rent to keep the horses in the MJC’s stables until the operator vacates the premises.

Owners have now given the MJC until Friday to come up with a different offer, or they would seek other avenues, including going to the press – notes TDM Canal Macau.

Following the closure of the MJC, it’s unclear what the Macau government stands to gain by eliminating horse racing in Macau- aside from the land bank it stands to acquire, and then evaluate how to use (being centrally placed in Taipa – nearby the Cotai Strip).

Macau Jockey Club

Insiders note that limitations had already been put in place, on imports of horses from abroad and broadcast of the races on foreign soil for increased betting. But looking at the revenues generated by the Hong Kong Jockey Club – of nearly $39 billion in its most recent financial year – Macau’s purported move to ‘diversify’ its economy, and the potential benefits of an equestrian-based experience, is being called out after this move.

In addition, the MJC’s method of handling the closure, and how it treats owners who have worked with the concessionaire for decades, under the closure contract it negotiated with the government, could be a cautionary tale.

Kelsey Wilhelm
Kelsey Wilhelm
Kelsey Wilhelm is a broadcast, print journalist and editor based in Asia for over 15 years. Focused on content creation, management, cross-cultural exchange and interviews for multi-lingual productions. Writing focus on gaming, business, politics, culture and heritage, events and celebrities, subcultures, music, film, art and fashion. Some of Kelsey's specialties are: editing, writing, copy creation, multi-lingual content production, cross-cultural exchange, content creation and management for Asian markets.