Newson claims that greyhound racing’s real problem is financial

THE live baiting saga is alarming enough but the bigger challenge facing the NSW greyhound industry is finding enough revenue to sustain operations, according to interim CEO Paul Newson in an address to the Central Coast faithful at Gosford Showgrounds this week.

To be sure, he cannot anticipate what the government will do during budget discussions to reduce the state’s tax take. Greyhounds now supply around 20% of the product but get back only 12.5% of TAB commissions since it agreed to a fixed 99-year split between the three codes.

As we pointed out the other day, that deal is more evidence of the long term failure of the racing authority to make sensible, hard-nosed commercial decisions. Some say they were conned 15 years ago, but the truth is they conned themselves. It was a deliberate decision by the authority and the leading clubs. Still, we have to deal with it.

A preferential tax treatment would help restore the balance. Currently, NSW applies a 3.22% tax on all betting compared with 1.28% in Victoria. It now has the option of reducing that tax more for greyhounds than the other two codes. Whatever the government decides, Racing Minister Troy Grant has told Fairfax Media that any extra cash should go to “sustainability and infrastructure rather than prize money”.

The Gosford audience, which was disappointingly small, had concerns about excessive paperwork and asked why they had to go to some trouble to fill out all the forms when GRNSW was failing to keep track of the total numbers of greyhounds racing, breeding, euthanased and so on. Mr Newson agreed that too many figures were missing and that GRNSW performance had to be improved.

(For our part, we can advise that an average of 14,057 dogs were racing across Australia for the 12 months ended March 31, 2015. That figure is almost identical to that for the previous 12 months period but may be slightly affected by the recent batch of suspensions in the three largest states. The June 2015 quarter may tell more. Those figures are obtained by scanning race fields everywhere and then deleting duplicated names).

However, those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Nationally, we do not know how much breeding is taking place or how many pups are whelped. Composite figures have not been published since 2011 for breeding, nor for meeting and starter numbers for that matter.

Add to that the impossibility of knowing how much betting is taking place. Most TAB data is readily available but not the day to day activity on Fixed Odds. Turnover for online bookmakers is not published until the end of the year and for Betfair, not at all. In any event, collating state by state data is never a simple task.

How, then, is it possible to run an industry without knowing how much activity there is and what the trends are?

It isn’t, apparently, as Mr Newson advises. He says the industry “has no credibility” and “is not speaking with one voice”, all of which contributes to its poor balance sheets.

However, I should comment on both those statements. To the extent that a single voice is not available it is surely a matter for the people controlling the industry – ie the GRNSW board and management, whose job it is to lead the way. The prospect of a single voice speaking for participants is somewhere between slim and none, going on past experience. But that’s hardly relevant. The public want to hear, and deserve to hear, from the people in charge of the business. If “credibility” is a problem the blame cannot be placed on the workers but on GRNSW itself.

Remember that the former practice of appointing industry people to board positions has been done away with anyway, thereby eliminating the potential for conflicts of interest. Even then, the supposedly independent members of the current board are not really that at all. All have had involvements with various arms of the racing industry in the past. They have form. No new blood and no people with different business experience are there to provide a fund of new perspectives and new ideas. Of course, even if there were some such board members, their effectiveness would be limited by the “committee of management” concept. Fixing that structure should be the first cab off the rank for all the reviewers.

Finally, another key concern expressed by Mr Newson was the amount of breeding taking place. While it attracted little or no comment from the audience it suggests one area where he has the wrong end of the stick. Breeding takes place purely and simply because there is a demand for it, whether socially, commercially or just to ensure the preservation of the species, as Darwin pointed out.

Efforts by the RSPCA, Animal Liberation and all the other anti-groups to cut breeding are pointless and illogical. They are also directing their attention primarily to greyhounds rather than to the hundreds of other breeds where the same issues persist. Sensible and controlled breeding is desirable, of course, and notably Victoria has been quite strong in introducing programs and standards to that effect. It is also desirable to police standards for the disposal of surplus animals, whether dogs, horses or wild animals.

However, to reduce breeding for the sake of it is not only a negative policy but one that will never work. Of course, the real aim of these groups is to eliminate greyhound racing altogether, in which case they would then be looking at a disposal problem of huge proportions. Further, it would tend to reduce the prospects of the breed being improved and sustained, which cuts across their own objectives of the preservation of the species – any species.

It’s the wrong approach. If you want to control breeding, you must address the demand, not the supply.

Anyway, let’s go to the future. The industry’s major problem has been defined as a shortfall in income, which is pretty accurate. Certainly, there may be some opportunities to trim costs here and there but that would amount to a once-off effort and will not really address the long term challenge. In any case, any savings will be gobbled up quickly by the rising cost of welfare projects.

The real issue is that efforts to increase patronage and therefore betting turnover have varied between nil and pathetic. Not only are we losing good customers (as evidenced by the declining quality and makeup of betting) but we are not going out looking for new customers. Nor are we seeking out information on what potential customers want and then creating a product they want to buy. Put simply, if we offer a runner at $2.00 when its real ability warrants a $3..00 price there is no hope of generating new business. That inbuilt over-betting is strictly a function of the growth of mug gamblers passing in the night. And it is more influential in greyhounds than in the other two codes because of the small size of betting pools.

Consequently, Mr Newson’s problem can be solved readily by (a) improving the product and (b) finding new customers. That cannot happen overnight but it is possible, providing only that those in charge of the industry stop administering and get out and manage.

Past Discussion

  1. Finally, another key concern expressed by Mr Newson was the amount of breeding taking place.” – FINALLY. Someone who gets it … 


    While it attracted little or no comment from the audience”  …. as opposed to the racing industry participants ….


    it suggests one area where he has the wrong end of the stick” … and Bruce apparently …


    Think about it, if you were racing greyhounds and there was no consequence for getting rid of the dunces, why would you have just one litter of pups and try and find a star, when you could have 5 litters of pups and try and find a star. You have much better odds with the second method. The only problem with the second method is you have 5 times as many dogs to get rid of that don’t make the cut. 

    Those in the greyhound racing industry must have a cost associated with ‘disposing’ of greyhounds. Whether that be in rehoming or even as punishment for euthanising dogs that don’t make the grade. This will make them more circumspect as to who they are breeding with and how many dogs they have. What people need to get is that mass breeding and then killing is unacceptable in todays society. It just isn’t. You may not like it Bruce, those involved in greyhound racing may not like it, but that is today’s society. So either deal with it and address the issue or bury your head in the sand like has happened with live baiting … I mean that worked out well for the industry didn’t it?

    rather than to the hundreds of other breeds where the same issues persist” – Two wrongs don’t make a right. What everyone else is doing is irrelevant. You have already admitted its a problem by saying that the issue persists with other breeds, so as such, by admitting that greyhounds are overbred, then worry about your own backyard first.


    we can advise that an average of 14,057 dogs were racing across Australia for the 12 months ended March 31, 2015″ – So given that figure, and given the amount of dogs that appear on the various GAP programs across Australia which number in the hundreds …. where are the rest of the dogs? Where are they going? At the very best, Australia wide, dogs adopted would be in the hundreds, not thousands. Even if you include some dogs kept on after racing by their owners, that still leaves thousands unaccounted for, each and every year.


    As to finding new customers, it wont happen. Too many options these days for people. Much more choices in entertainment. At the moment success would be judged by just maintaining its current share of the market, it will never expand it.


    I look forward to the moderator deleting this comment as no opposition to Bruce’s thoughts are allowed on here.


  2. ‘Scoop’ Newson. Lol Mismanagement and signing off on TAB deals that Mickey Mouse would have rejected has got us into this position. Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel. Then again, I sent 2 emails to our CEO and didn’t get a response so I am not holding my breath.

  3. ‘Scoop’ Newson. Lol Mismanagement and signing off on TAB deals that Mickey Mouse would have rejected has got us into this position. Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel. Then again, I sent 2 emails to our CEO and didn’t get a response so I am not holding my breath.

  4. Mr Newson has no idea at Dubbo the other day Hummer Keeping won a race from box 1 and then the next race box 1 won again and he asked the Stuart was that the same dog from the race before……
    Lol

  5. Mr Newson has no idea at Dubbo the other day Hummer Keeping won a race from box 1 and then the next race box 1 won again and he asked the Stuart was that the same dog from the race before……Lol

  6. I missed mr nuisance at dapto yesterday. I got lost I think he had a go at me at the meeting because someone said that he said that greyhound personal had no directions or something.

  7. I missed mr nuisance at dapto yesterday. I got lost I think he had a go at me at the meeting because someone said that he said that greyhound personal had no directions or something.

  8. As a former Club official, I can say that all clubs had to furnish GRNSW with nominations, scratchings, total runners etc. for all meetings, so GRNSW have had all this info since their inception. It was part of 32 standards that were required for a club to maintain a racing licence.

    It seems, as Mr Newson has indicated, GRNSW’s performance HAS to be improved.

    What Mr Newson really should be telling the participants is, if they (GRNSW) reduce costs, and the betting tax is reduced, you will be racing for $X at city meetings, $X at TAB meetings &, $X at country meetings. That is all the industry can afford on current performance.

    So, as it’s licence renewal time on June 30, some participants will get out, some will relocate and natural attrition will take place. Supply and Demand.

  9. As a former Club official, I can say that all clubs had to furnish GRNSW with nominations, scratchings, total runners etc. for all meetings, so GRNSW have had all this info since their inception. It was part of 32 standards that were required for a club to maintain a racing licence.

    It seems, as Mr Newson has indicated, GRNSW’s performance HAS to be improved.

    What Mr Newson really should be telling the participants is, if they (GRNSW) reduce costs, and the betting tax is reduced, you will be racing for at city meetings, at TAB meetings &, at country meetings. That is all the industry can afford on current performance.

    So, as it’s licence renewal time on June 30, some participants will get out, some will relocate and natural attrition will take place. Supply and Demand.  

  10. Greyhound racing has been around since 1912. yet greyhounds have been around for many centuries.  Therefore your argument regarding “the preservation of the species” doesn’t cut it.

  11. Greyhound racing has been around since 1912. yet greyhounds have been around for many centuries.  Therefore your argument regarding “the preservation of the species” doesn’t cut it.  

  12. MarionPurnell lol, good one Marion. There does seem to be this implication within the racing industry that without the industry there would be no greyhounds, which is utterly untrue. The breed can carry on just fine without the industry.

  13. Interesting that you use Darwinian evolution as some kind of counter argument to reducing the amount of breeding that is occurring.  It’s also interesting that you refer to greyhounds as a “species”.

    Clearly biology is not your strong point.

    All domestic dogs are the same subspecies of C. lupus (wolf) hence they are all genetically compatible.  The greyhound therefore is not a species, and so perhaps you should hold off dictating to certain groups what their agendas are when it comes to species preservation since you don’t understand the concept.  It is also ridiculous to start referencing Darwin to make an argument for preservation of a breed of dog that would never have come into existence if it weren’t for human intervention.  If you were to actually let Darwinian natural selection take it’s course, it wouldn’t take long for the greyhound, and all the other dog breeds we’ve created, to evolve into something much different to what they are now.  The extreme morphologies of all the dog breeds only exist because we constantly maintain them artificially through breeding programs.

    Go do some research and stop spouting nonsense.  It’s not some moral imperative to maintain a dog breed.  The dog doesn’t care whether it conforms to the Crufts Breed Standard, it just wants to eat, mate, and enjoy life like all animals.  Keep playing with your artificially bred dogs if you wish, I’m not in favour of denying you that, but don’t pretend that there’s any intrinsic value to the existence of a dog breed, it’s value is peculiar to those that share your hobby.  The rest of us just value animals period, and want to see their welfare taken care of.

  14. Interesting that you use Darwinian evolution as some kind of counter argument to reducing the amount of breeding that is occurring.  It’s also interesting that you refer to greyhounds as a “species”.

    Clearly biology is not your strong point.

    All domestic dogs are the same subspecies of C. lupus (wolf) hence they are all genetically compatible.  The greyhound therefore is not a species, and so perhaps you should hold off dictating to certain groups what their agendas are when it comes to species preservation since you don’t understand the concept.  It is also ridiculous to start referencing Darwin to make an argument for preservation of a breed of dog that would never have come into existence if it weren’t for human intervention.  If you were to actually let Darwinian natural selection take it’s course, it wouldn’t take long for the greyhound, and all the other dog breeds we’ve created, to evolve into something much different to what they are now.  The extreme morphologies of all the dog breeds only exist because we constantly maintain them artificially through breeding programs.

    Go do some research and stop spouting nonsense.  It’s not some moral imperative to maintain a dog breed.  The dog doesn’t care whether it conforms to the Crufts Breed Standard, it just wants to eat, mate, and enjoy life like all animals.  Keep playing with your artificially bred dogs if you wish, I’m not in favour of denying you that, but don’t pretend that there’s any intrinsic value to the existence of a dog breed, it’s value is peculiar to those that share your hobby.  The rest of us just value animals period, and want to see their welfare taken care of.