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The Macau Jockey Club May Be Running Its Final Lap

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The future of horse racing in Macau is hanging in the balance, with growing concerns that the Macau Jockey Club (MJC) may soon lose its authorization to manage races in the Special Administrative Region (SAR). Declines in horse populations and race frequencies have sparked these worries, with recent data suggesting significant reductions over the past two decades.

Concerns Rise Amid Facility and Staffing Issues

The Asian Racing Report has highlighted a sharp decrease in horse numbers in Macau, plummeting from 1,200 twenty years ago to a current figure of approximately 220. Similarly, the annual race count has dwindled from 1,200 in 2003 to a mere few races today. Adding to the unease, the MJC has halted its recruitment endeavors and has maintained its staff size post-pandemic.

Related: Analysts Confirm Macau Shifting Away From Gaming

Mounting apprehensions surround the future of horse racing in Macau, as insiders voice concerns that Saturday's season finale could be the venue's swan song. Sources informed the Asian Racing Report that MJC chairman, Angela Leong, might face governmental scrutiny, having been asked to justify the club's inadequate facility upgrades, despite promises made during a 24-year extension in 2018.

While MJC reported various renovations this year, including upgrades to horse amenities and infrastructure improvements, uncertainties remain. An anonymous trainer conveyed their unease, citing the absence of scheduling information for next season's opening meet and whispers of looming staff cuts. The trainer asked whether this cost-cutting to survive, or a harbinger of the end.

Adding to the growing worries, a batch of 30 horses set to be shipped from Australia to Macau was unexpectedly rejected at a Sydney quarantine site in July. This move is believed to have been instructed by Macau authorities.

The Financial Turbulence

The MJC is grappling with escalating financial challenges, having recently reported an increase in losses to $260 million by 2022, marking a $25 million surge over the past year. Additionally, horse racing revenue saw a dip, declining to US$4.8 million in 2022 from $5.8 million the previous year.

In 2018, MJC committed to a significant $186 million investment to elevate its amenities, including hotels and restaurants, in exchange for a 24-year extension to its operations. Despite these ambitious plans, the club has consistently posted losses annually since 2005.

Should the MJC cease operations, it would mirror events in Singapore. There, the Singapore Turf Club is preparing for its last race in October 2024, as the vast land it occupies is earmarked for development.

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