Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Muddled season of CPL T20 cricket


Muddled season of CPL T20 cricket
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

There can be little doubt that the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) failed Trinidad and Tobago, despite the public relations exercise. The end result was that T&T’s Red Steel struggled, although scraping into the semifinals. That the T&T public booed, not once but twice, T&T captain Dwayne Bravo on Saturday, when he appeared on the big screen, was inappropriate and wrong, but it was a message of dissatisfaction, given the high standards of the past. What this proves is that there must be a change of name going forward and the name of the countries must not be used. Some of the players, with whom I have spoken, suggest naming the teams after the capital towns in each island, which on the surface seems logical, but given the way West Indies cricket is administered, may not actually work.

T20 has long been good theatre and always had an appeal even going back to the Stanford days. However, it lost its value when T&T began to dominate and the other teams fell short. Therefore, people around the Caribbean lost interest, not wanting to watch one-sided matches. It is clear in the current set up that T&T was at a serious disadvantage. Let us examine the base; the West Indies won the World T20 Championships in Sri Lanka in 2012. The West Indies squad was DJG Sammy, DJ Bravo, S Badree, DM Bravo, J Charles, FH Edwards, CH Gayle, SP Narine, KA Pollard, D Ramdin, R Rampaul, AD Russell, MN Samuels, LMP Simmons, DR Smith. Of the players above, the following are from T&T: DJ Bravo, Badree, D M Bravo, Narine, Pollard, Ramdin, Rampaul and Simmons—EIGHT. Three from Jamaica: Gayle, Russell and Samuels. Two from Barbados: Edwards and Smith. Two from St Lucia: Sammy and Charles.

The teams were divided based on these players with T&T receiving three of the eight players above and the other five placed elsewhere. Strangely, Guyana got three players, Barbados, one player and Jamaica allocated one player as well. Jamaica had three players and got two selected. Mathematically, that is 66 per cent, Barbados had two players and got one selected and that is 50 per cent, similarly St Lucia had two players and only one was selected, so that also is 50 per cent. Now let us re-examine the Red Steel. Of the eight players, T&T got three players which is 37.5 per cent, and if we are to use the starting 11, where T&T had six players in the finals, they got only two of the six—33 per cent. Even if you do not like mathematics, there is inequality in all of this. While, it is easy to say that this tournament was a success in terms of crowd participation and because people enjoyed the fun and party atmosphere, those who argue that it would develop young players may need to re-think that idea, as both Guyana and Jamaica struggled to give exposure to many “young and inexperienced” players.

Clearly there is something wrong with this model and it may lead to asking why don’t we do something similar in athletics? How would Jamaica feel about this if we decided to have a special athletics games in the Caribbean and dispose of the leading Jamaican athletes to run for various teams in the region such as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Yohan Blake, Nesta Carter, Warren Weir, etc. Of course Usain Bolt will run for Jamaica. And how would Jamaica feel to read online or listen in the BBC news and be told that the Guyana or Barbados track team defeated Jamaica? I am certain they would not be very happy. Most of the international media stated that T&T lost and that is how it was perceived. As it stands, the Jamaican Tallawahs will not be able to represent the region in the Champions League cricket in September, as T&T already qualified. Does this mean, that they will represent the West Indies next year in 2014 and how many of the team will be eligible, given the amount of players on this team with outside commitments to other clubs? 

This CPL is very muddled in terms of process but it seems the only interest is financial and if so, that is sad.



National Association of
Athletics Administrations
of Trinidad and Tobago
Ato Boldon Stadium
Balmain, Couva
Trinidad and Tobago
PO Box 605, Port of Spain
Tel 1-868-679-3276
Fax 1-868-636-7877
Affiliated to IAAF
and TTOC

3 September 2013

Request for meeting with Minister of Sport
Great concern has been expressed by Minister Anil Roberts over recent incidents involving the
withdrawal of two of Trinidad and Tobago’s top female athletes from the recently concluded
IAAF World Championships in Athletics. The Minister is also on public record making very
damning comments about the leadership of the National Association of Athletics
Administrations (NAAA) and has indicated that he was awaiting a report on the matter.
Notwithstanding that the matter pertaining to Semoy Hackett is currently before the Court of
Arbitration in Sport (CAS) and is still to be arbitrated upon, the Association sought to arrange a
meeting with the Minister to share information on the issue.
The following provides a timeline of communication between the Association and the office of
the Minister of Sport over the last week:
• Friday 23rd August – Letter requesting a meeting with the Minister of Sport prepared
• Monday 26th August – Letter delivered to Ministry of Sport by courier.
• Thursday 29th August – Letter dated Sunday 25th August, signed on behalf of the
Permanent Secretary (Ag), Ministry of Sport, addressed to the President of the NAAA
requesting “a report on the matter relative to Semoy Hackett” matter” received.
At 4:04 p.m., President of NAAA, Mr Ephraim Serrette contacted the Minister’s
Secretary as follow-up to the letter requesting the meeting. The Minister’s Secretary
indicated that she had no knowledge of the request but would inquire about it.
She later contacted the president at 5:50 p.m. and advised that the Minister had arranged
a meeting for the next morning, Friday 30th August at 10:00 a.m.

Concerns were raised over the short notice, since NAAA’s team comprising
approximately six (6) persons needed to be informed and given that the members are all
otherwise employed, such an impromptu meeting would have been difficult.
Up to that time there was no acknowledgement of the initial letter sent to the Minister.
• Friday 30th August – The Minister’s Secretary was contacted at 8:26 a.m. to inform her of
the challenges experienced in getting NAAA’s team together for the 10:00 a.m. meeting
and requesting that the meeting be rescheduled.
It was therefore quite a surprise to learn subsequently that the Minister and his team were
disappointed by the non-appearance of the NAAA members and further that the Association was
The work of the Association, like that of many other sporting organisations, is facilitated through
volunteers many of whom are otherwise employed and, given the short notice, it was not
possible to pull together a team. This reservation was conveyed at the very onset. While we
regret the situation that arose, efforts were made both on Thursday and early on Friday to avoid
such an outcome.
Notwithstanding the frequent disparaging remarks made by the Minister about the Executive of
the Association, we remain committed to the development of track & field in Trinidad and
Tobago. In this regard, we are willing to meet, albeit with reasonable notice, to discuss any and
all matters pertaining to the sport.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Time to Couple

trinidad guardian
By Andre E Baptiste

         -------------Time to Couple -------------
Over the years, there have been numerous calls for the racing industry to clean up its act – all of which has gone unheededThose in authority continue to turn a blind eye to wrongs which are so obvious that even Stevie Wonder could see them clearly.  Once again, following the events of Race day 13, the calls for greater transparency will only be renewed.
The horse population in Trinidad is fairly small and the pool of trainers even smaller.  For this reason, in the past, when calls have been made for the authorities to consider some form of coupling for horses trained or owned by the same individuals in one race, these calls have fallen on deaf ears.  If ever there was a need for action in this regard, the outcome of a race in which two horses trained by one individual went off at 6/5 and 19/1 with the winner being the longer shot animal, should trigger a response.  The stewards did call the trainer in for an explanation for the improved performance of the winner who had not won a cent in any of his previous starts. While it is difficult to prove nefarious behaviour, to avoid all suspicion, coupling of runners trained/owned by the same individual should be re-examined.  Even if coupling of horses trained by one individual is not practical, coupling of horses owned by one individual should be urgently considered.
Another area requiring early attention is the recent spate of doping incidents.  There is no racing authority so none of the recent cases can be heard as yet but it is very alarming that for the current racing year, we have had four cases of winners returning positive samples after only 13 racing days. Surely the racing authorities are not sending a message to the racing public that anything goes at the moment.  The spate of incidents is a bit strange and while it might be merely coincidental that we have had this high incidence of positive samples, again, we could avoid all suspicions, etc., if the proper authorities were in place to quickly dispense justice in all such cases.
The Arima Race Club has also seemingly decided to reduce the number of tellers available on normal race days, seeking to only bring out a full complement on the “big” days – sponsored days, public holidays.  While this is a sensible approach, it is not immediately obvious what sort of analysis was undertaken to determine what the basic teller complement should be.  The reality of gambling is that most punters wait until the horses are on their way down to the start to make their bets on a particular race.  The result is that with the reduced complement, there is almost always now a long line for bets to be placed as the horses start to load into the stalls.  While i have not monitored to determine how many bettors are eventually turned away because of the start of the race, it seems likely given the length of the lines that one or two punters must have failed to get in their bets.  Maybe the ARC should consider pooling all of their available tellers in one common area on each level, so that you do not have the situation of tellers in some areas being free while there are punters lined up elsewhere failing to place their bets.
The final area i would like to comment on is the ARC’s stated no-smoking policy.  This policy was introduced some time last year in keeping with the international/local push to reduce the incidence of second hand smoke.  In spite of this policy, and various signs to this effect, racegoers continue to smoke on all levels with impunity.  The issue of course is enforcement since there is absolutely no enforcement of any of the policies implemented/proposed by the Club.  The level of indiscipline in this regard is unfortunate and it can only be hoped that the Club will do something more to enforce its own rules and regulations.
One of the ways forward would be for the Arima Race Club to put proper actions in place to maintain the surface, at the moment; it is quite bad with many owners and trainers complaining. This is an area that needs full time maintenance and overview and not part time management.
In closing, i would like to extend my condolences to the family of Dave Gaff, who lost his battle with cancer last week Friday.  Gaff was one of the more popular riders around owing to his very affable personality and while his success as a rider was somewhat limited, the success of a man really lies more in the impact he has on those who he left behind.  With that as criteria, Gaff could have been considered more successful than many other riders on the local circuit today.  One horse that will forever be associated with him is ForTheLoveofit – who must have qualified as his favourite horse.  Gaff won quite a few races for Dr. Ryan Shim on this animal and the horse’s name is probably apropos for Gaff’s involvement in the sport.  May his soul rest in peace.
:: AB

Wednesday, April 10, 2013




By Andre E Baptiste




                       ---- SINS OF OMMISSION IN CRICKET ----




There is little doubt that the job of a selector in any sport, is a tedious ad unforgiving role, with many in disagreement with the selectors’ choices, particularly when with hindsight, the choices prove to be wrong. As a result, the three West Indians who selected the 30 member preliminary squad for the ICC Champions Trophy in England from June were always going to annoy more than satisfy.
However , there are some decisions that are inexcusable , whatever the sport, and in this case , there are two names missing from this CRICKET squad list , that should cause many to shake their collective heads and say “ No ! No !”. 
Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Shane Shillingford are without doubt, two quality players in the region who are automatic choices for the test team. But strangely both have been omitted from this squad and that makes no logical choice, even if logic and selection are not worthy bedfellows.
Shillingford continues to demonstrate his variety and quiet confidence in his bowling, and when you watch him bowl against Zimbabwe and also in the regional four day series, there is clear evidence that he is at the top of his game. While it may be acceptable to dismiss Shillingford’s claim for a place on a Regional T 20 squad, there is little doubt that 10 overs from Shillingford in a 50 over match will be a different perspective. And whether or not, he was to be selected in the final 15 is another discussion, but there is absolutely no way that Veerasammy Permaul should be selected ahead of Shillingford in the 30 member squad. While Permaul may be younger, and a long term investment, he has looked incapable of control and class in the shorter version of the game. All of this cannot be good for Shillingford’s confidence, unless the Chairman of the selectors Clyde Butts spoke to him on the matter. If this was not done, then this is just more of the despicable tendency that exists in West Indies cricket.
Chanderpaul,  should be on merit selected on any squad of 30 for limited overs, his pedigree and experience must mean something rather than nothing and I find it particularly disturbing that men such as Butts, Robert Haynes and Courtney Browne who should know better, have allowed themselves to look like fools yet again in regards to Chanderpaul’s non selection. History has shown that Limited overs cricket requires a period of consolidation and patience in many instances. The dates of swashbuckling hitting from the start in the 50 overs game was extinguished with the birth and growth of T20 cricket over six years ago.  Therefore it seems a sin and one that has to have been well calculated if not efficiently manipulated by those empowered with the responsibility of selectors for the Caribbean.
I would hope and pray that there was no other person influencing the thought process of the three selectors. Perhaps, it has been stated by some that Chanderpaul’s documented differences with West Indies coach Otis Gibson has finally returned to bite this loyal lefthander. Recently on Isports on i95.5fm, none of the cricketing guests, Former West Indies player Rajindra Dhanraj and Former Trinidad and Tobago player Andre Lawrence was lost for words as regards the omission of Shillingford and Chanderpaul. The problem is they were not alone, because when the telephone lines were opened, none of the forty odd callers could explain this sinful omission either.
Therefore, it would appear that the election of Dave Cameron to the post of President of the West Indies Cricket Board will have no effect on transparency and accountability if such idle selection thoughts can be allowed to continue without questioning. If Cameron was his own man, he would ensure that through his Chief Executive Officer Michael Muirhead that the selectors face the media and explain their penchant for errors in judgement.
Even as many shake their collective heads, Shillingford continues to capture wickets in the regional 50 over series, adding six more leeward Islands batsmen to his growing haul of wickets on Sunday for his team the Windward Islands.
Our selectors must attempt to stop deciding on the career paths for our cricketers without giving them a fair and honest trial. It is these tribulations that lead many youngsters to become fed up with sports. In a year, when there will most likely be only two tests matches for the West Indies between November 2012 to November 2013, are we saying to both Shillingford and Chanderpaul, that is it for you, that will be your only income, while less talented and perhaps less dedicated players are allowed to achieve greater financial wealth through 50 overs and T20 cricket. Something has to be wrong with this thinking, but the question is can we trust –Dave Cameron – to find a solution, or will he just turn a blind eye. Let us watch and observe Cameron carefully, as I am not very confident for the future.
:: AB

Wednesday, April 3, 2013



By Andre E Baptiste


              -------  SPORTS FOUNDATION AWARDS CAN IMPROVE -----



The First Citizens Foundation Sportsman and Sportswoman of the year awards were predictable, not only in the mere results (Keshorn Walcott and Kelly Ann Baptiste, the two respective winners) but also in the presentation. There will have to be new ideas for 2013 if this event is not again to lose too much of his glamour. The prestige will remain because of the historical nature of this event, but it is the interest that is clearly waning, as evidence by the low numbers that told me, they were not interested enough to either view the Awards on television or listen on the radio.

Firstly something has to be done to ensure the actual attendance on the night is better , year after year , it appears as if it is a case of diminishing returns with less and less persons on seats. This method seating by special codes is the reason for this, and this separation should be postponed until, a proper solution is found. In the meantime, all of the spectators should be brought to the front end. This would present a much better image for all concerned.

While, I understand that there must be some theatre, I believe that it was far too abstract to ever enquire an understanding of purpose. As Spartacus would say –“Absent expression “. There needs to be some high points filled with applicable music and if possible adopt some mystery, especially in a year when the winners were as predictable, as the fact that the sun will shine in March.

The speeches were generally short and to the point , although it was clear that the Chairman of the First Citizen Sports Fountain – Dr Keith Clifford- was prepared and had not only practiced his speech , but was determined to live by it , to ensure some of the wonderful programmes could be completed sooner rather than later. It was generally accepted by even those that listened via the radio that Dr Clifford’s tone and his way with words assisted greatly in lifting the tone and clarity of the event. Some even suggested, he should have spoken louder as his delivery was succinct and audible.

Also critical and perhaps lacking on the night was the disclosure when nominees were being announced of their presence or absence and who is representing them if they are absent. What we found is that in some cases, the nominees were not there, and while the information was given, there was no one present on the stage. This is an inexcusable failing, unless the Sports Foundation was not notified in advance of the nonappearance of the nominee. If the Sports Foundation knew of this, then alternative arrangements should have been made to have a representative of the nominee or the respective association on the stage to acknowledge his or her performance.

Several leading sporting personalities were missing among them the eventual winner – Keshorn Walcott - , Sunil Narine and Njisane Phillips. It is revealing that only Walcott had a representative in his Manager, Sean Roach. Better efforts should have been made for both Narine and Phillips to be represented. This is an area that needs to be improved on in the future.

One also has to appreciate that this ceremony is live on the television and in a competitive Television market; it needs to set itself apart with some pleasurable moments. For that reason, as this is a sports award, the tone of the presenters of the various profiles should be of a certain spirit and excitement to emphasize it is about sports.

I believe as well, that one if not both of the presenters needs to have knowledge of sports, as this is integral in the credibility of the venture as a true sporting test of time venture. In the past, Ato Boldon and Ian Bishop have both successfully managed this venture with skill and aplomb. Even Anthony Dennison would be a welcome voice based on his pedigree background in sports announcing.

There is also a case to announce the names and qualifications , one by one to all of the public of all of those involved in the decision making process for the four awards on the night. This would help in alleviating the growing concern in this country, that sports administration is losing many of its transparency values.

Let me emphasize, that I thought that Jennifer Lander and her team at First Citizen, did an excellent job in the processing and facilitating of all of the invited guests on the night. The transition was generally smooth and efficient.

Other winners on the night were for the Jeffrey Stollymeyer Award (Best Sporting Organization), were the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation, and for the Lystra Lewis Award (Best team of the year), the 4x400 metres London Olympics Relay team.

Overall if, I had to grade the Sports Foundation awards on the night, I would probably have to determine several categories and give points based on those. Maybe next year, I can do that, that is, if I am still invited after these notations and suggestions.


:: AB



By Andre E Baptiste


                             ------- BEACON OR MIRAGE -----



Some light at the end of the tunnel was revealed when it was revealed/rumoured that well respected horseman Pierpont Scott was the government’s choice to head the currently inactive Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority (TTRA).  The appointment of a board for the TTRA is long overdue and it has apparently been accepted by all that racing is currently being conducted illegally by the Arima Race Club.  The fact that this situation has been allowed to persist for as long as it has, is an indictment on the society that is Trinidad and Tobago.   I am reminded of a joke that was recently shared with me:-

Last month, a world-wide telephone survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was: "Could you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?" The survey was a massive failure because of the following:


1. In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant.

2. In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.

3. In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.

4. In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant.

5. In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant.

6. In South America they didn't know what "please" meant.

7. In the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.

8. In the UK they hung up as soon as they heard the Indian accent.


It seems that Trinidad and Tobago‘s sports shares a lot in common with Eastern Europe, China, the Middle East, South America and the USA. Those in authority seem to believe that they can continue to flaunt the rules of natural justice, fair play and common sense with no consequences.

Horse Racing is a global sport, and even in the Middle East, where gambling is not allowed, there are rules and regulations that govern how the sport is run. For people in Trinidad to believe that the sport can be governed in a haphazard and almost cavalier approach is an underestimation of giant proportions.  Our horse racing is slowly but surely sliding towards the status of horse racing in our neighboring Caricom country, Guyana.  In Guyana, it is almost a situation of anything goes – their various Racing Clubs setting their own rules and owners/trainers/jockeys being allowed to get away with virtually anything.  While this is okay for them, and it could even be a natural step along the path towards establishing an accredited governing body for the sport across there, in Trinidad, we have been there and done that.  It is extremely regressive for us to be going back to that sort of situation.

What is particularly worrying is that the current status quo does not bother or concern many people.  Virtually everyone involved in the sport is continuing their business as if nothing is different.  Now it is true that the presence of the TTRA is not seen by the majority of the general public but there are numerous potential pitfalls associated with its absence.  Believe it or not, virtually anything can take place in the sport at the moment and there is no one to hold the transgressors accountable.  Doping?  That can happen and even though discovered, the individual can continue to participate in the sport until the TTRA is installed AND an investigation conducted.  Suspensions? The ARC can suspend anyone they like, but once the individual appeals to the TTRA, the suspension will be “suspended” pending the outcome of the appeal, which will take place when the TTRA is installed AND the appeal heard. 
Enquiries?  People can enquire all they want, but there will be no definitive positions on the issue until the TTRA is installed AND the enquiry adjudicated upon.  This is not even to mention the approval of the monthly/weekly racing programmes – which strictly speaking are all invalid unless approved by the TTRA.  If that was not bad enough, the rules of racing clearly state that no horse will carry more than 56.5 kg in weight in any race in Trinidad, yet the ARC has unilaterally changed that ceiling to 58.5 kg.  Until and unless approved by the TTRA, this change is invalid yet racing continues.  Now is that any way for a country to conduct its affairs?  Surely we are better than this.

As mentioned at the outset, the one name mentioned to date is an ideal candidate for the position and if he accepts/is offered would undoubtedly make a major difference to the manner in which the sport is conducted.  He will need to have equally strong members on the Board but there are lots of candidates.

There is a dearth of honest (yes, some of us know what this word means) people who are willing to fearlessly share their opinions (yes, some of us know what this word means) so as to move this sport to a higher level. 
This country is replete with pretenders who offer no real solutions (yes, some of us also know what this word means) while the doers bide their time. 
The name called as Chairman falls into the latter category, let us hope the powers that be are serious about their intent  and so rather than the mirages they have been throwing up for us, we have a true beacon for the sport’s future.

:: AB






By Andre E Baptiste


      -----------      LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD – PART 2------------


In  respect of the collection of the 10% taxes, whereas in most other territories the tax is based on either gross profit or turnover, in Trinidad it is collected at the point of sale (that is, deducted from the pool from inception).  This approach reduces the total amount in circulation and has an inverse multiplier effect both on the earnings of the Club and ironically on the total tax collected.  When one considers that the Club also deducts 14% from the handle to cover its own expenses, that translates into 24% coming out of each dollar bet by a punter at the Club as compared with say 9% at the Betting Shop (if we look at it from the perspective of the punter).  The latter must be able to offer more in return.  The math is obvious. 

Secondly, we have the situation with the various licenses that the Club must pay compared to the Bookmaker.  Whereas English racing is broadcast in Trinidad under license, the same is not true for American racing (equally if not more popular).  The Club must pay a fee to the US tracks to be allowed to commingle bets (necessary in order to broadcast/accept wagering) of 6% plus due to the exchange rate, the minimum US$1 bet costs around TT$7.  The bookmakers do not have to pay anything.  Strictly speaking they can simply “pirate” a signal through HRTV or TVG and accept bets.  I have not be able to ascertain whether that action breaches any Intellectual Property laws (here or abroad)  but even if it doesn’t, this free access to US broadcasts is not an option for the Club.  In addition, the cost of a bet is just the TT$1 (plus tax). 

Hopefully, this matter is really not breaching any laws since the government could again be accused of complicity by knowingly collecting taxes on these bets.  Thirdly, virtually every bookmaker in this country is now accepting general sports betting (football, soccer, cricket, weather, you name it) with the same 10% tax applied.  If the Club wanted to offer sports betting, it would be required to pay a flat $100,000 license per year for each location (including OTBs) which translates into a flat $700,000 per year before the first bet is placed.  Each of these shows how uneven the playing field is between the Club and the Bookmakers.  As such, while it is true that the Bookmakers pay around $17 million in tax per annum and the Club pays around $12 million but receives $15 million from the BLB, the “subsidy” of $3 million should hardly be begrudged.

One of the challenges that will confront this country as we go forward in this new world environment will be the legality of the practices that this country is engaging in.  We have already seen where the cable companies are being forced to pay the proper licenses for their broadcast or risk losing access to various services.  This, in turn has caused the cable companies to increase their charges to the final consumer.  That is the way of the world.  The same thing is inevitable in horse racing.  This country’s challenges with the FATF and the AML/KYC gurus around the world are going to force the government to eventually clamp down on the private members’ club and any illegal activity at the bookmakers and the Arima Race Club.  None will be spared.  The crackdown can only meaningfully begin if the proper legislation and regulatory environment is established.  Knowing our proclivity to dilly-dally, no doubt we will only do what is necessary when our backs are up against the wall but I will still outline what we need to be looking at.

It must start with governance.  At present, although the BLB is responsible for tax collection from the bookmakers, their license is granted by the Courts and can only be suspended/removed through the Courts.  In most other jurisdictions, bookmakers get their license from a gaming commission.  These licenses are only granted after substantial due diligence checks are completed (for AML/KYC purposes) and appropriate safeguards established (such as surety bonds) to protect punters in the event of financial failure of a bookmaker.  While Trinidad law makes provision for a Gaming Authority, this is, for all practical purposes, a defunct body. 

If this country is to get serious (as it will have to) to satisfy the demands of the FATF, a proper Gaming Authority with the powers to suspend licenses will have to be established.  Casinos, private members’ clubs, bookmakers and other gambling establishments are on the international (and local) high risk lists and extreme caution is required when dealing with such entities. 

The BLB has been in existence for almost twenty three years and in all of that time, there has been very little effective policing of the sport due to the inadequacies of the supporting law.  Slowly but surely, the days of leniency will draw to a close. At that time, everyone will no doubt be left scrambling.

Who will be “brave” enough to address all of this in the coming months.

:: AB






By Andre E Baptiste



                         -------LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD – PART 1 ---------


In the early 1990s, horse racing was shifted from a turf surface to a sand surface primarily to facilitate year round racing since racing was being centralized and it was widely and correctly believed that a turf surface, in the Caribbean, would not stand up to year-round racing.  One of the main reasons for this of course was the weather and the pounding of the hooves which, over time would result in uneven patches on the track unless extensive maintenance was undertaken.  We see the wisdom of this decision today, through the frequency with which scheduled turf races have to be cancelled due to the poor condition of the surface, suggests that enough proper measures have not been established to correct this awful tale of quality horses being injured on the turf surface. Perhaps some more concentrated work on this surface by persons with adequate knowledge and experience would assist.

Unfortunately, while that move was taken to level the surface (so to speak), Trinidad continues to chase the curve ball when it comes to truly leveling the playing field on which horse racing is being asked to compete. 

This analogy is most appropriate and truthful  when we look at the competition that the Arima Race Club ( ARC)  has to contend with from the private member clubs and the  many private bookmakers in this country.  Unless and until those in authorities (also known as the government here in) decide that they will deal with this situation, rather than condone the practices by ignoring the obvious and taking no noticeable action, the reliance on their coffers will not improve significantly.

Procastination is one of the worst sins of any administration and those that look after the affairs of horseracing in this country are rightfully fed up of the excuses and false promises. Perhaps the New Line Minister Vasant Bharath is the man to bring change , or perhaps not, only time and performance will tell.

First of all, let us examine  the situation with the private members’ clubs.  Everyone in this country knows that casinos are illegal in Trinidad and Tobago.  Everyone in Trinidad and Tobago knows that the definition of a casino is a public place that accommodates certain types of gambling activities.  Everyone in Trinidad and Tobago knows that to avoid being labeled a casino and therefore being illegal, the phenomenon of a private members’ club arose. 

As a private club, they are not open to the public and so therefore lie outside of the definition of a casino and as such, are not illegal.  Over the years since the legislation was implemented, the number of private members’ clubs has exploded from low twenties to maybe triple digits.  Everyone in Trinidad and Tobago knows that is a farce.  Any member of the public can visit a private members’ club by simply becoming a private member at the point of entry.  Since everyone knows it is a farce, how do we interpret the Government’s “increasing” of the levy charged on the tables at the private members’ club. 

Does that mean that successive governments were not aware that they were implicitly condoning the flagrant flaunting of the laws of the country.  The question is for what reason?  Since there is no obvious reason for casinos to be illegal (those on the religious right notwithstanding, particularly those attending St Charles Roman Catholic Church in Tunapuna), and everyone knows that private members’ club are really casinos, and the government is prepared to increase the taxes on their activities, why not just lift the ban on casinos?  There must be a hidden reason  Is there a vested interest in keeping “casinos” banned so as to allow private members’ club to flourish?  If so, someone needs to ask the question “whose vested interest?”

Leaving that question aside, because there will be no “honest” answer, the current reality is that the Arima Race Club cannot get a “license” to be a casino and cannot disguise itself as a private members’ club so it has to compete on an uneven playing field with casinos, sorry, private members’ club.  These clubs pay a tax based on the number of tables while the Club pays tax at the point of sale.  We will discuss this some more below but the point is that the more tax that is paid, the less the promoter will have available to offer to the gambler as winnings.  The math is obvious, even for a kinder garden school child.

With respect to the bookmakers, the issues and uneven playing field are even more egregious.  First of all, while the bookmakers add the 10% tax to the cost of the bet placed by the punter, the Arima Race  Club deducts the 10% from the cost of the bet placed by the punter. 

Proper governance, a transparent and equal tax regime and adherence to all of the laws of this land are required before the playing field outside of the running rails can be leveled.  The final question is who will have the strength to bell that cat?

:: PART 2 will be next week