The announcement of the future cessation of activities of the People's Turf Club PLC at the Champ de Mars caused a shock wave in the horse racing community. However, further analysis reveals that the move was actually the result of growing tensions between gambling mogul Jean Michel Lee Shim and Government House.

End of 2019. The victory of the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) in the general elections is welcomed with pride by close collaborators of Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth. But one man is just as happy: Jean Michel Lee Shim.

The efforts made by this gambling magnate in Mauritius during the 2019 electoral campaign did not go unnoticed. In addition to the Rs 10 million that he himself said he contributed to the MSM electoral campaign on Radio Plus, Jean-Michel Lee Shim also set up extensive logistics through his non-governmental organization, Solidarité Marye Pike (SMP). “To the polls, citizens,” he wrote in a WhatsApp message to everyone working for SMP. The objective was clear: do everything possible to block the path of the Labor Party (PTr), considered the most formidable adversary of the MSM in 2019. Jean-Michel Lee Shim clearly indicated to his troops that a victory for the PTr in the 2019 elections would be disastrous for him and would inevitably lead to job losses.

Thus, the MSM's victory represented a wealth of opportunities for Lee Shim and his collaborators. The day after the general elections, the Lee Shim camp outlined its plans for the Champ de Mars, seeking to challenge the Mauritius Turf Club (MTC). However, their ambitions would be thwarted by an unexpected crisis: COVID-19.

This health crisis, which plunged the country into confinement in 2020 and 2021, seriously forced JMLS to review its plans. After being informed of the health situation and the economic implications by government authorities, he brought together his closest collaborators to announce to them that the country would be in confinement for an indefinite period and made them understand that they would have to opt for teleworking. In fact, he made this announcement on March 20, 2020, around 4 p.m., to his colleagues, several hours before the Prime Minister communicated this decision to the population.

Aware that the Champ de Mars will be closed to the public for a certain time, Jean-Michel Lee Shim and his colleagues decide to launch the online purchasing service. The businessman explains to his employees that this is a winning strategy, because it will be the only sector capable of generating profits while many economic activities will be at a standstill. Several million rupees are then mobilized during this period of confinement to finance the purchase of various items. The idea is to create an online supermarket: SMS.Mu. A range of items are purchased and delivered to one of the businessman's warehouses in the Coromandel Industrial Estate.

Two years later, Jean-Michel Lee Shim returns to the forefront of the horse racing scene. The amendments made to the Finance Bill greatly benefit the gaming tycoon. Several of these amendments, which went completely unnoticed but denounced by the opposition leader at the time, Xavier-Luc Duval, were adopted without incident.

The organization supported by Jean-Michel Lee Shim thus obtains carte blanche to open betting on international races. However, it is probably on the Champ de Mars that Jean Michel Lee Shim has his sights set. In 2022, the People's Turf Club Ltd entered the horse racing scene, positioning itself to organize the races and thus relegate the MTC to the background. Despite the disagreements expressed regarding the control of the PTO for the organization of races, both in the horse racing community and in public opinion, he obtained control of the Champ de Mars. A real consecration.


Convinced of his influence on Government House, Jean Michel Lee Shim and his collaborators ignored the criticism. But at Government House, the situation is being closely monitored. The exit of several renowned teams (Gujadhur, Maingard, Merven), as well as the drop in racing revenues, are observed, although there is no official decision against Jean Michel Lee Shim.

According to official figures, revenue collected by the MRA in the form of taxes on horse racing betting increased from Rs 506 million in the 2020-2021 financial year to Rs 390 million for the following financial year. As of May 16, 2024, revenues amount to Rs 282 million. A situation considered disastrous at the Ministry of Finance, which, according to our information, had already started to tighten the screws on the PTP.

Indeed, it should be noted that several requests made by the organization to make new amendments to the GRA Act have been refused. The PTP wanted to be allowed to take bets on races and had requested a reduction in the cost of freight on the importation of horses from South Africa. Requests that were rejected.

However, it was during a high-level meeting last week that the PTP leadership realized it had been abandoned by Government House. According to various sources, the government explained to the leadership of the PTC that the disastrous situation at the Champ de Mars could no longer be tolerated, especially in the electoral context. The lack of enthusiasm in the horse racing community has inevitably led to a lack of interest among Mauritians in racing. This is why we learn that the PTP announced its intention to withdraw from the organization of the races in an editorial published last Thursday. The presence of Jean Michel Lee Shim would be seen as a heavyweight for the MSM as the general elections approach.

Jean Michel Lee Shim unreachable

Our efforts to contact Jean Michel Lee Shim were unsuccessful. We also sent him a message, but did not receive a response.

In the viewfinder of the MRA

In recent weeks, several companies affiliated with Jean Michel Lee Shim have been the subject of in-depth examinations by the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA): SMS Pariaz,, , Global Equestrian Limited and PTP. The MRA's communications department, when contacted, said the authority is not authorized to provide any information on such investigations.

Leave a reply below

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Contact Business

Captcha Code