The Racing Victoria Limited Group (RVLG), incorporating Racing Victoria (RV) and Racing.com Media (RDCM), on Wednesday released an overview of its results for the 2022-23 financial year (FY23) ending 30 June 2023.
In a year of transition post the COVID period, RVLG has reported a FY23 surplus of $0.2 million, down from a $13.9 million surplus in FY22. Contributing factors included:
• substantial increases to prizemoney across all races from country minimums to Group 1 features;
• a rapid softening of wagering turnover and revenue through the second half as the market rebased post COVID and increases to interest rates and other cost of living expenses took effect on punters;
• changing Government funding arrangements ahead of the commencement of a new Victorian Racing Industry (VRI) funding agreement from July 2024;
• the cessation of special grants made to support Clubs throughout the COVID period;
• a return to normal infrastructure investment levels following the completion of the Caulfield training relocation project; and
• an increase in returns from funds under investment, following a rebound in financial markets from prior year lows.
A summary of the FY23 results follows:
2022-23 Financial Year Overview
• Through sound fiscal management in a year of transition and challenge, a surplus was recorded for the 11th consecutive year;
• Total revenue decreased by 3.3% versus the prior year record-high to $553.8 million;
• Media revenue through RDCM increased by 12.5% to $84.8 million;
• Total expenditure decreased by 1% to $554.0 million whilst accommodating record returns to industry participants and owners; and
• Wagering turnover on Victorian Thoroughbred Racing (VTR) was the second highest on record at $8.8 billion – although down 4% on FY22.
• A record $284.4 million was paid in prizemoney and bonuses across the industry – an increase of 7.5% on FY22 and up 72.7% since FY14;
• Victoria maintained its position as a national leader with average prizemoney and bonuses on offer per TAB race rising to more than $72,600; and
• An additional $31 million in prizemoney and bonuses was on offer in the 2022-23 racing season – the total offered surpassing $300 million for the first time.
• Total wagering revenue decreased by 7.3% ($28.3 million) to $360.9 million off the back of softer wagering operator margins and macro-economic forces impacting punter engagement post the 2022 Spring Racing Carnival; and
• The recent decline in distributions from the VICTAB Joint Venture (JV) continued, with returns down 5.1% owing to increased market competition and a decline in profitability driven by rising costs.
• Following distribution of an additional $74 million to Clubs in special grants through the COVID period, normal Club funding was restored in FY23;
• Clubs received record normalised funding of $89.3 million – an increase of 5% on FY22; and
• Clubs have now received underlying funding growth (excluding special grants) of $51.8 million per annum or 138% since FY14.
• Industry and participant support remained materially in line with FY22 at $31.1 million;
• This investment included a continued commitment to a range of programs and initiatives aimed at supporting the welfare of horses and participants; and
• Workforce development, including the Apprentice Jockey Training Program, and jockey riding fees and insurance were among other industry support investments.
• Net assets grew marginally to $197.5 million, up 0.1% year-on year;
• The acquisition of 388 hectares at Oaklands Junction on the urban fringe of Melbourne (the ‘North-West Land’) was completed for $25.3 million plus associated fees; and
• Funds under investment increased in value, however the final balance declined year-on-year to $86.9 million at 30 June 2023, owing to the completion of the North-West Land acquisition.
• RDCM direct revenue grew to $84.8 million, whilst continuing to enable indirect wagering turnover through expansive distribution of VTR vision and content across multiple platforms nationally and internationally;
• RDCM produced and broadcast over 700 Victorian, South Australian and international race meetings through FY23 showcasing the sport 24/7 across multiple platforms; and
• Media expenditure grew by 8.7% to $64.1 million, including costs to support new commercial partnerships and the introduction of high definition and closed captioning on Racing.com.
• The rebasing of the wagering market has continued with VTR turnover down around 10% year-on-year through the first quarter, although still well above pre-COVID levels;
• The impact is being cushioned through RV cost efficiencies and the RV balance sheet which has been actively strengthened across the past decade;
• A $2.5 million net reduction in prizemoney took effect from August 2023 with targeted feature race reductions and midweek metropolitan races returning to FY22 levels;
• New initiatives to grow revenue are having a positive impact. The Saturday 10th race trial is averaging $4.8 million per race in turnover; a new World Pool partnership is driving incremental growth for Clubs; and key scheduling changes have expanded the number of Group 1 weekends in spring from 10 to 11; and
• The 2024 Victorian Wagering Licence process remains ongoing with the licence holder(s) expected to be announced by the State Government prior to the end of 2023. New industry funding arrangements recently agreed with the State Government will replace the expiring historical VICTAB JV funding arrangements from the start of FY25 and will provide important ongoing funding certainty.
“FY23 saw record returns to participants and Clubs, along with the continuation of key strategic investments in infrastructure and media," said RV Chief Executive, Andrew Jones.
“Through sound fiscal management we were able to deliver a surplus for the 11th consecutive year, despite a significant downturn in the wagering market.
“In the face of macro-economic challenges, the wagering market is rebasing post COVID. This will continue to impact industry revenues.
“By building our balance sheet over the past decade we are able to cushion the downturn in FY24. We will report an underlying operating deficit accordingly.
“Part of our growth strategy has been adjustments to the spring schedule and we’re excited to welcome Victoria’s newest Group 1 raceday, the Caulfield Thousand, this Saturday.
“Initiatives to return to growth are important and will continue to be a focus. We must work together as an industry to ensure a bright and prosperous future.”