It cannot have come as a shock to the New Zealand racing industry, despite what industry leaders have said, that returns from the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) would be cut.
Wagering turnover is currently down 10.5% from last year at $159,835,391, with on-course turnover down 13.3% and off-course down 10.9%. Only fixed odds wagering at $20,976,458 is up 11.4% saving further cuts in distribution.
The thoroughbred industry is gravely concerned for the future with turnover just one of a number of issues which include the alarming drop in foal numbers; the number of foals who do not ever make it to a trainer; the lack of an industry owned and run bonus scheme; turnover of staff at New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) notwithstanding the short term contracting of two senior industry figures this week; the drop in industry news creation and dissemination; the high cost of running NZRB and employing staff who can be best summarised as holding binding industry infrastructure in low regard.
NZRB chief executive Andrew Brown told this week’s NZTR AGM that not only was turnover down, but the bet type and amounts wagered had changed.
“Activity on the tote reflects ... a reduction in the amount people are spending per bet. The number of bets with a $100 spend or more was down 15 percent,” said Brown.
“The board was doing well with fixed odds betting and revenue from showing its races overseas and would continue its efforts to drive revenue up, but the next couple of months would be crucial as far as domestic tote turnover went,” he said.
The Board has informed the three racing codes, thoroughbred, harness and greyhound, this week that the industry payout from the TAB for the current season was expected to drop from a forecast $132m to less than $128m.
NZTR chairman Guy Sargent said the forecast funding cut would to be dealt with in the NZTR funding model for the 2011-12 season.
“It is very disappointing for us and very depressing news,” Sargent said.
“We are still a long way out, we could get a really good Christmas and we might get back, but at this stage it is not positive.”
NZTR has decided that with a drop of some $2m owners will be charged riding fees from February 1, a move projected to about $1.5m.