Horse Racing Close to Return at Argentina’s Bahía Blanca

Horse racing – which means race betting – could soon find a new home in Argentina. While there are currently tracks in operation across the country, plans to revitalize the Bahía Blanca racetrack are moving forward.

Jockeys participate in a horse race
Jockeys participate in a horse race
Jockeys participate in a Kentucky Derby race last year. A plan to revive a track in Argentina is gaining strength but still needs regulatory approval. (Image: Yahoo News)

Local media outlet La Nueva reports the equestrian venue in the province of Buenos Aires could once again host races in the first half of this year. To get started, it needs the approval of the Provincial Directorate of Racetracks and Casinos, a division of the Provincial Institute of Lotteries and Casinos (IPLyC, for its Spanish acronym).

Should the regulator greenlight the plan, the track would be back in action after being quiet for years. The media outlet says the club’s directors have already completed all the procedures requested and are waiting for a response.

A Work in Progress

The last time there were any races at the track was in 2015. Since then, there have been occasional efforts to bring back racing, but without any substantial progress.

Then, last year, the club began to spruce up the track and its facilities in hopes that races would make their return. Breeders and laborers continue to attend to the property, waiting for the resumption of activity.

There is virtually no town in the interior of Argentina that doesn’t have a track of some kind. While animal welfare lobbyists argue against the races due to the treatment of the horses, they generate economic movement and work for the area.

There have also been arguments that allowing the races can protect the animals. Argentina requires oversight and testing of the racehorses, providing an extra layer of attention to the horses’ health and well-being.

The Palermo Hippodrome, for example, is certified according to ISO 9001:2015 standards for the extraction of biological samples. Testing these samples allows approved veterinarians to determine if there are any indications of health problems or doping.

With an increased focus on animal welfare, there’s a strong possibility that this will be an expectation of the IPLyC at all tracks, including Bahía Blanca.

The idea of reopening the track became a major discussion in 2020. At the time, the opposition, led by veterinarians and animal rights activists, convinced the local government to keep the gates closed. They’re trying this time around, as well, but might not have the same success.

More Than Horses

Reopening the track isn’t just about horse races; it’s also about betting and gambling. Bahía Blanca is able to see the continued success of other properties, like the Palermo Hippodrome, and wants to grab a piece of the action.

The Palermo Hippodrome, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of its slot rooms last October, added unique slot machines earlier this month. It struck a deal with IGT to grow its complement to 600 slots with new options designed to bring innovation to the gaming floor.

The new machines are in the center and the ground floor of the Special Grandstand, as well as on the Mezzanine floor of the New Grandstand. They all have a 13.3″ LCD panel, a standard inductive wireless charger, and a USB charging port. Some also have 32″ HD LCD touchscreens.

Bahía Blanca is missing out on the action, though. If it can find the support it needs from regulators and the community, it might be able to return and add new life to the country’s mideast coastal region.

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