The New South Wales Greyhound and Harness Racing Regulatory Authority has just announced that it is “pleased to appoint Darrell Loewenthal to the position of GHRRA Acting Director”.
According to the GHRRA, Mr Loewenthal has been involved in the administration of the racing industry for 30 years and has been associated with the implementation of all major Government initiatives in the industry during that period.
“Darrell has wide ranging experience in racing and Government and at time of his retirement in 2005 was the Director, Racing and Deputy Director-General of the former Department of Gaming and Racing” said GHRRA Chairman Stephen Price.
He has also served for six years on the Board of the then Harness Racing Authority in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Since his retirement, Darrell has acted as a consultant to the racing industry.
According to Mr Price, “With experience in high level public sector management and his detailed knowledge of the racing industry, Mr Loewenthal is well placed to lead the Authority through the industry’s transition to self-governance over the coming months”.
Significanlty though Mr Loewenthal as head of the Department Of Racing and Gaming was an integral member of the “Betting Exchange Taskforce”, which delivered a 2003 report that explicitly warned against licensing betting exchanges such as Betfair because of the “harm” it would cause.
The taskforce concluded that the licensing of betting exchanges in Australia would result in an overall substantial decline in wagering revenue streams to the racing industry and governments, even after factoring in likely ‘new money’ bet and relatively lower operator retention rates.
Mr Loewenthal conducted the review as the New South Wales State Government’s representative on the taskforce as the then Deputy Director-General of the Department of Gaming and Racing, and was quoted at the time as “strongly supporting the taskforce’s findings”.
Mr Loewenthal was also intrinsically involved with the war that erupted between Betfair and Racing NSW regarding race fields legislation, Racing NSW revenue, the NSW Racing Legislation Amendment Act (NSW) 2006 and legislation that prevented any other operator than Tabcorp from sponsorship or advertising on racecourses in NSW.
According to Betfair, Mr Loewenthal was the person that received the 2007 Betfair submission that would’ve have generated $3.24 million in its first year of operation, well in excess of 20% of gross profits they had already offered to Racing NSW; and extraordinarily higher than the 10% of gross profits deal Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) had accepted from Betfair.
Betfair CEO Andrew Taits never received a reply to that submission, and Betfair subsequently took Federal Court action against Racing NSW over the level of the race fields levy, citing a lack of procedural fairness involved in asking for a submission and then ignoring it. That action continues to this day.
Aware of Mr Loewenthal’s anti-exchange betting stance and his history with Betfair and Racing NSW, it is troubling that Mr Price sees Mr Loewenthal as “well placed to lead the (GHRRA) Authority through the industry’s transition to self-governance”.
Given that transition will mean that the marketing and regulatory arms of NSW greyhound racing will again be one, the result could mean Mr Loewenthal may again be put in a position which will require some degree of interaction with betting exchanges such as Betfair, formulation of policies regarding pari-mutual betting, betting exchanges and interactive gambling; as well as decisions over race fields legislation.
Darrell Loewenthal will commence his role on 26 March 2009.