The gravy train might be slowing down on WA’s booming racing industry as the controlling authority Racing and Wagering WA announced a lower than budget increase in distribution for the racing industry next season.
The 2008-09 distribution to the three racing codes will be $112.6 million, compared to $103.7m for this season.
Of the extra $8.9m, a total of $3.7m will be distributed to metropolitan and country clubs for venue infrastructure and rehabilitation and $3.6m will be added to the prize money pool.
The distribution comes after a record $1.48 billion turnover this season, which still fell well short of RWWA’s forecast budget of 8.5 per cent growth in turnover.
RWWA has enjoyed unprecedented double-figure wagering growth for the past five years which provided the vital resources, along with State Government tax cuts, to resurrect the industry to now rival the country’s trendsetters NSW and Victoria.
Australia’s Equine Influenza crisis wreaked havoc on RWWA’s wagering revenue with NSW and Queensland thoroughbred and harness racing wiped out for four months.
Bio-security measures restricted the transport of horses in and out of WA, which also had a detrimental effect on betting turnover.
RWWA chairman Ross Bowe said the increase was creditable but warned the future for the racing industry’s lifeblood — the TAB — was full of new challenges.
“Despite the effect of equine influenza on the current year’s wagering turnover, RWWA is still confident that racing clubs in WA have an adequate level of funding and stake money, which will continue to provide a sustainable future for the racing industry in this State across all participant and club sectors,” Bowe said.
“RWWA is facing significant threats and challenges in its future competitive environment with issues such as the High Court decision re Betfair, the impact of the Victorian Government’s decision on the wagering licence currently held by RWWA key pooling partner, TABcorp, post 2012, and the ongoing competition from local and interstate racing and sports bookmakers.
“RWWA is the major funding vehicle for the WA Racing industry and potential threats are of concern to the long term viability of the industry.”
The WA Government had its ban on internet betting exchange Betfair operating in WA overturned in the High Court last month.
Perth Racing chairman Ted Van Heemst, WA Trotting Association president John Burt and Greyhounds WA chief executive David Simonette remain optimistic about the future.
Story by Robert Edwards, Courtesy : The West