The Nicosia (horse) Race Club warned on Monday it risked bankruptcy if parliament agreed to raise a municipal levy on betting by half a percentage point, which is the demand of the hosting local authority, Ayios Dhometios.
The matter was discussed before the House interior committee whose members heard that raising the levy to 1.5 per cent would fetch the municipality an additional €200,000 annually.
A Race Club representative told MPs that for the industry to continue to operate, securing thus thousands of jobs, it was necessary not only to refrain from raising the municipal levy but also to scrap it.
He said the club has been in an uphill struggle for the past eight years to avoid bankruptcy and save thousands of jobs.
To go on operating, the club has already dipped into its reserves, MPs heard.
In 2016 and 2017, the club lost some €9.2m on local betting while it collected some €8.7m from bets on foreign races – a net loss of €489,167.
Horse racing betting representatives have also lost part of their commission as part of an austerity drive, which saw horse breeders and owners lose around €3.8m.
“Other professional classes such as trainers and jockeys also experience the same tragic financial situation, as well as club staff who are demanding at least what had been cut,” he said.
Since 1982, when the levy was introduced, the Ayios Dhometios municipality has collected some €18.7m. The proceeds in 2017 reached €326,129.
Mayor Costas Petrou said the racetrack’s operation has been creating problems for years.
“There is disturbance, stench, uncleanliness, new residents cannot be attracted around the racetrack and properties are degraded. Stimulus projects are needed to offset the problem,” Petrou said.
Discussion will continue at a later date.