Landowners Put the Squeeze on Kasamatsu Racecourse

Booming ticket sales sounds like a good thing, but for Kasamatsu Racecourse, a facility in Gifu Prefecture functioning as one of the fifteen horse tracks of the National Association of Racing, it has mainly resulted in spiraling costs for renting the land where it sits.

About 260 people own most of the land upon which the Kasamatsu Racecourse, built in 1935, now sits. As the result of an earlier lawsuit, the amount of the rent payment was linked to ticket sales.

At that time, ticket sales were sluggish, but in 2012 a new system was launched whereby tickets for National Association of Racing tracks could be purchased on the internet using the wealthier Japan Racing Association’s network.

This led to a vibrant increase in ticket sales at Kasamatsu Racecourse, going from 10.6 billion yen (about US$96 million) in FY2012 to 20.3 billion yen (about US$183 million) last year.

However, due to the rent formula that was agreed upon, this unexpected boom in ticket sales led to an even sharper rise in rent payments, from 63 million yen (about US$568,000) in 2011 to 430 million yen (about US$3.9 million) last year.

The Kasamatsu Racecourse management (affiliated with the local government) is now seeking to renegotiate its rent agreement with the landowners, arguing that the situation is getting out of control. The spiraling rent payments are putting a squeeze on any potential profitability from the ticket sales, and the now-decrepit racecourse has little money available for much-needed reinvestment. (AGB Nippon)