Philracom banking on online betting platforms to thrive amid pandemic

Reli de Leon, Philippine Racing Commission chairman, (center), awards the Presidential Gold Cup trophy to Wilbert Tan (left), owner of Pangalusian Island, in this file photo late last year. With them is Philracom executive director Andrew Rovie Buencamino. The event is De Leon’s first official function as Philracom chairman.

The Philippine horse racing industry is slowly but surely getting back on its feet amid the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to the green light given by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the "Sport of Kings" to resume along with the emerging online betting platform.

Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) chairman Aurelio "Reli" De Leon bared that they are gradually hitting their target sales for this year through digital betting on the websites of the three horse racing clubs in the country.

"As of now, we are still adjusting. But as I told you, we are targeting P2.8 to P3 billion sales this year. Last year we only had P1.1 billion sales because of the pandemic," De Leon said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, May 18.

De Leon, who was named as the 12th Philracom chairman last December 2020 after serving as a commissioner since July 2019, said that their sales grew from three percent in March last year to 17 percent in March this year with the emergence of their online betting sites.

By July, Philracom is eyeing to hit the 30-percent mark especially with the more relaxed General Community Quarantine (GCQ) allowing off-track betting (OTB) shops with compliance to health protocols in the NCR plus bubble.

Major events have already been lined up for the calendar year at the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona and Sta. Ana Race Track in Naic both in Cavite as well as the Metro Manila Turf Club in Malvar, Batangas.

The Philracom will host the P2 million-Commissioner Cup at the San Lazaro race track this coming Sunday while the Chairman's Cup will be held in June at the Metro Manila Turf.

The Philippine Triple Crown will fire off from July to September along with the Classic Cup even as the Juvenile Cup will be organized from August to November. The Silver Cup and a proposed PSA Cup will be scheduled on November 7 at the San Lazaro track.

Capping off the busy year is the Presidential Gold Cup which will stake the biggest horse racing prize in Philippine history at a minimum of P5 million, shattering the previous record of P3 million.