AgiproNews Italian View – Who can save la ippica?

Italian business waits for parliament to publish its ‘Revival Decree outlining the terms and conditions attached to sector-specific rescue packages sanctioned by the government.

Having handled the epicentre of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak, Italy enters ‘phase two’ of its lockdown procedure allowing bars, restaurants and further commercial properties to reopen obeying social distancing orders.

Meanwhile, in Rome, the Chamber of Deputies has turned its full attention to salvaging Italy’s domestic enterprise devasted by the wretched virus.

From Lombardy to Sicily, regional MPs have urged PM Giuseppe Conte’s government to intervene saving vital industries, demanding emergency funds for tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, textiles, clothing, automotive and football of course.

However, amid the chamber’s clamour will any MP be brave enough to stand-up for la Ippca (horseracing) – Italy’s grandest sport. Tracing its heritage to the Roman Empire, horseracing is synonymous with Italy, in which equine races have been recorded since 1773.

Following years of mismanagement, Italian racing has seen its fixtures decline in international standing, its stadia deteriorate with the sport falling out of the public domain.

Mirroring its counterparts, the leadership of Italian racing has called for economic support yet its balance sheets reveal the blunt judgement of whether a sport in a constant coma should be salvaged.

Since 2008 Italian racing has recorded year-on-year revenue declines seeing its GGY handle drop from €2.2 billion to €500 million in 2019. Furthermore, Italian racing cannot follow UK and France precedents, in demanding direct bookmaker funding having garnered a meagre €125 million revenues from its 2019 fixtures.

This May, the Conte government will allow Italian racing to restart its 2020 schedule under closed confinements.

“A minimum number of people inside the racetracks, minimum distances to be respected, sanitization of all the areas: these are the measures we will take”, Agricultural undersecretary  Giuseppe L’Abbate told AgiproNews.

Yet stable owners’ question whether a restart is even a viable option, as racetrack betting points will be closed, and betting networks are limited in capacity.

Massimo Passamonti, founder of Sistema Gioco Italia, the association for retail betting incumbents stated that a restart could be achieved on the provision that “two or three  races be scheduled in times that can meet the habits of online bettors, as the network of horse betting shops are still closed because of the lockdown”.

Passamonti urges stakeholders to broaden their thinking beyond lockdown complexities, as Italian racing stares at a bleak future.

Gioco Italia’s leader believes that la Ippca is in urgent need of a ‘ground-up reform’, urging leadership to radically reform racing’s schedule forming ‘Serie A racetracks’ focusing on developing a small number of high-quality meetings.

“It is clear that this classification passes through the privatization of the new horseracing management, even if still participated and controlled by the public authorities. Finally, a tax reduction is needed to make the bets on horseraces more competitive with all the other games” Passamonti adds.

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Content provided by AgiproNews Italia 

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