NZTR identifies four key issues to bring about New Zealand racing change

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) has identified four priorities as the New Zealand racing industry prepares for the implementation of the Messara Report.

NZTR Chairman Dr Alan Jackson outlined the key issues, “which will enable us to achieve the changes the industry so badly needs,” in his address to the NZTR Annual General Meeting, in Wellington this week.

These are: 
1. Racefields.
2. A globally competitive wagering operator.
3. Wagering confidence.
4. Customer participation and fit for purpose facilities.

At present, two operators, BetEasy – which was formed by a merger between CrownBet & William Hill Australia - and Betfair were making voluntary racefields payments. These two operators represent approximately 35 percent of the Australian corporate market and the New Zealand thoroughbred code is projected to get around $1.5m a year from these two operators.

“Once the racefields legislation is in place and all corporates are included and therefore competing on an equal basis, we should be able to commence with annual revenue of around $4 to $5 million,” Jackson said.

“That will grow to $10m at least over the next three years, aided by further promotion of our racing in the Australian market by NZTR.

“The amended racefields legislation is not yet before Parliament but we are hoping it will by May. Other corporate bookmakers may begin voluntary payments before then, provided the legislation is imminent, and NZTR is looking to spend some marketing dollars in Australia, to drive awareness of our racing over the 2018-19 summer carnival.

“We share the Racing Minister’s view that the legislation has to be fit for purpose, but it is also vital that it is fully in place for the next racing season. We have waited too long already.”

Jackson reiterated NZTR’s support for the outsourcing of the TAB wagering operations.

“There is significantly increased international competition for the major punters, who operate in a global market place that now includes consumption taxes in Australia.

“Analysts predict these changes will increasingly favour the large, low-cost operators and continue to pose challenges for the New Zealand TAB, which lacks the economies of scale and the “deep pockets” available to their mainly global competitors. 

“This is why NZTR has, for the last three years, continually pressed the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) to give serious consideration to outsourcing their wagering operations and has requested a quantitative and independent review of the NZRB business case – which has not been supported by the other codes.

“With the impetus of the Messara Report, there has been some movement in this regard and the latest external estimates suggest that there would still be a very significant prize in an outsourcing arrangement – both in distribution and on the balance sheet.”

The NZTR venue plan was expected to be released for consultation in February. “Through this process, we also intend to discuss the creation of a Future Fund. As we know, approximately $300 million is required, in the short to medium term, to provide fit for purpose venues and infrastructure.”

Jackson also emphasised that it was important that the thoroughbred code had control “over our destiny” and that this was a time to put the wider industry above personal interests.

“At critical times, and we have reached one now, we all need to ask ourselves what will work best for the industry - and how do I support that. Yes, there will be some winners and some losers as we move forward, but the pie will be much, much larger if we can work together. In the longer term that means we will all be winners.

“We must deliver for the future generation, who will benefit the most from the decisions we make today. They are the industry participants who will stand on our shoulders and we cannot allow them to look back on this period and see another opportunity squandered.”