The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which oversees horse racing, presented to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito on Friday, Feb. 27 a draft outline of a bill to permit sales of betting tickets for overseas races.
Recently, Japanese horse racing fans’ interest in overseas races are increasing, as more Japanese horses are taking part in high-profile foreign races, including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France, and winning prizes.
The ministry plans to submit the bill to revise the horse racing law to the current ordinary Diet session, hoping it would lead to a rise in betting revenues, part of which are used to boost the livestock industry.
Under the current law, horse race operators in Japan, namely the Japan Racing Association and local authorities, are not allowed to sell betting tickets for overseas races even for those participated by Japanese horses.
According to the draft outline, the ministry will designate some 20 foreign races which it thinks are operated fairly and are believed to turn high profits. JRA and local horse race operators will choose from the races and sell betting tickets. 10 percent of the revenues will go to the state and local government coffers like those from domestic races to be used to promote the livestock industry and finance social welfare projects.
LDP lawmakers with close ties to the farm sector welcomed the move at their meeting held the same day. Manabu Horii, Lower House member from Hokkaido, said he strongly hopes the revision will help revitalize the livestock industry, as light horse breeding regions are suffering from harsh business conditions.
(Feb. 28, 2015)