Call on future of New Zealand greyhound racing delayed until after NZ elections

The world finds itself today in a state of flux, teetering between continued operation under stringent conditions and a total shutdown, according to a recent declaration from NZ Racing Minister Kieran McAnulty.

The minister's statement coincided with his approval of a 25-year partnership between the TAB and British company Entain, and the proposal to prohibit other online betting platforms.

This crucial pivot comes in response to the minister's belief that the current state of the industry is untenable and that the clock has run out on potential reforms ahead of the upcoming election.

It should be notable that the partnership announcement was made at the thoroughbred New Zealand Bloodstock's (NZB) headquarters, the Karaka Pavilion in South Auckland.

The deal with , the operator of the Ladbrokes and Neds greyhound betting sites in Australia, promises to inject at least $900 million into the NZ racing industry over the next half-decade.

This financial boost includes an $150 million payment upon agreement approval and a 50% revenue share from day one, with guaranteed annual payments of at least $150 million for the initial five years.

The agreement is a much-needed shot in the arm for the industry, expected to halt declining revenues and provide a modicum of financial stability in the years ahead.

The TAB's decision to join forces with Entain, announced in March, hinged on the government's nod of approval.

Entain's commitment includes a $1 billion investment in the TAB over five years, a $10 million sponsorship for racing carnivals, and a revitalisation of the TAB brand, its systems, and facilities.

Furthermore, Entain guarantees job security for all TAB staff for the next two years.

The TAB's CEO had previously expressed concerns about competing with international operators without sufficient capital and had warned of possible distribution cuts should the deal fall through.

McAnulty revealed that the Cabinet had given an in-principle agreement to broaden TAB's monopoly to encompass online and race betting.

He cited the rise of unregulated online gambling as a game changer that had been bleeding the racing and sports industry of revenue.

The minister believes that regulation could not only open up a new revenue stream for local racing and sport but also mitigate the inherent risks associated with unregulated online gambling.

But McAnulty was quick to point out that the racing industry windfall will may not flow on the New Zealand greyhound racing industry, which he said “”no longer viable” in its current form.

McAnulty yesterday also unveiled a new report following a review commissioned in September 2021 by then-racing minister Grant Robertson.

The review found that 13 issues identified in the earlier Hansen report were still a concern, with Greyhound Racing NZ () preserving a “culture of silence” against advocates.

Robertson responded by issuing a warning to the industry, underscoring the need for improved data, transparency, and practices, without which the industry risked losing its social license to operate.

According to the Board (RIB) report, the industry in its current state is no longer viable.

The minister said that two paths lay ahead: either operate under strict conditions or face .

He had initially planned to release the report for stakeholder discussions early this year, but extreme weather events caused a delay.

Unfortunately, this delay means there may not be enough time to present a decision on the future of NZ greyhound racing to the Cabinet before the election.

In the interim, he has tasked the RIB with collaborating with the GRNZ to prioritise and enhance animal welfare standards.

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