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Argentina – Protests against new racetrack legislation held in Buenos Aires

By - 6 August 2018

The tracks of the five racecourses in the province of Buenos Aires were the scene of large-scale protests against new laws, which will see the end to state subsidies in the sector.

Workers from a wide number of sectors involved in the industry demonstrated simultaneously at La Plata, San Isidro, Azul, Tandil and Olavarría racetracks and warned of the serious consequences of the new law would have on jobs.
The move, which was organised via social media under the banner “horse racing is decent work,” argued that the new law will put thousands of families at risk.

The government of Buenos Aires will begin phasing out the subsidies starting next December according to the new law, which has been submitted to the Senate of the Province of Buenos Aires.

Omar Alegre, General Secretary of the Union for Staff of the Hippodrome of La Plata said there has been a serious lack of communication when it came to the new law and that they had not been consulted by the government. “I want to convey that horseracing is not just a game. Horseracing is culture, it is decent work, it is populated by thousands and thousands of Small or Medium Enterprises (SMEs). We cannot accept in any way the absolute ignorance of what the activity is, ” he said.

At the San Isidro racecourse, Senator from the Frente Renovador party (The Renewal Front) Fernando Carballo warned of the dire consequences of the new law, which he described as “illogical”. Senators and Deputies from the Frente Renovador party have already come out in opposition of the government bill. In July, Senator Carballo argued that that it was an “inopportune” time due to the current economic crisis, as more than 300,000 people would be affected by the cuts.

The law revises article 29 of Law 13,253 that earmarks the subsidy to the horse racing industry and sets out a proposal for a new horse racing law. The law proposes that government funds will be earmarked for other government projects and that the activity should be able to generate sufficient funds on its own by providing racing content from local track for simulcast horse-wagering abroad as well as other measures.

For more than ten years, the province of Buenos Aires has subsidised the activity of racetracks and subsidised different trade associations in order to make up for the fact that bingo halls have been permitted to operate slot machines on their premises. The new law indicates that “given the time elapsed since its entry into force, there is a need to adapt and modernise the regulations governing the activity, adjusting it to the current situation and its problems.”

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