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Parliament displays its lack of racing nous

by Brian de Lore
Published 31 May 2019 www.theoptimist.co.nz

Parliament displays its lack of racing nous

Few racing stakeholders would have even known it was happening, and fewer would have tuned-in to Channel 86 on Sky to watch it, and even fewer would have seen last Tuesday as a momentous day for the future of New Zealand racing.

But Tuesday was a momentous day for racing because it was the day racing Minster Winston Peters introduced his Racing Reform Bill No.1 to Parliament, and it was the day that will kick off the process that will transform racing from a dying dog to a dancing dragon.

Yes, the detractors and the denigrators and the whingers are all coming out enforce voicing negativity; we do have a lot of very frustrated people in this business, but it’s the view of The Optimist that Minister Peters is delivering the promises he made pre-election, and substantially better times are ahead for the sport of thoroughbred racing.

Everything that occurred on Tuesday in Parliament for racing was very positive, and it came only after a mountain of planning, scheduling, and execution; it didn’t happen by chance.

The Minister made sure that his timing was right, he had the full support of the Coalition, MAC had done its job in acting upon the blueprint known as the Messara Report, and that nothing that the National Party protested in their speeches or at debate time, could influence the result.

The bone of contention for National was the truncated time-period between the first reading and the Bill going to Select Committee by June 11th and coming back to Parliament for a second and third reading before being passed into legislation in record time. But the protestations failed.

National speakers said they supported the Bill but then argued for a delay to string it out for many more months to give sports and other bodies time for submissions. They also argued that the Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee chosen for this Bill was an unsuitable committee and that it should be going before the Primary Production Committee (Chaired by National MP David Bennett).  

An amendment to that effect moved by Gerry Brownlie failed by 63 votes to 55. All amendments failed by the same margin and the Bill will now go to the T&I Select Committee which happens to be chaired by an NZ-First List MP.

Brownlie further argued that the racing industry was boring, which appeared to be a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. He also claimed, along with his National Party colleagues, that he had been consulting with racing people, but where and when that happened no one seems to recall. Brownlie couldn’t remember the name of the Wellington course (Trentham) and also said the racing business was a $26 billion industry when in reality it is only $1.6 billion.

If you didn’t understand why the Minister called for submissions on the Messara Report last October, then you do now. The submissions following evaluation were taken into account by MAC in prioritising recommendations on operationalising the Messara Report – so the time for submissions has well expired. The Minister can legitimately argue he has consulted the people.

As well as the National contradiction of voting against it, they claimed a lack of consultation with sports, plus the truncated Select Committee process for a Bill of its size, gambling harm and any other reason they could fabricate. But they did it without aplomb and did it without any substantial knowledge of the industry.

National did racing a huge disservice during nine years of government during which time they ironically had the racing vote. But that vote turned against National in the 2017 election, and the analysts say the racing vote got NZ First over the line – if you voted for Winston in 2017 then you have been more than vindicated by what happened in parliament on Tuesday.

National looked inadequate in both the speeches and debate which included the smarmy Nathan Guy who was Minister of Racing for more than five years. When Minister he sat on the racefields legislation and did nothing about it for years, but on Tuesday blamed parliamentary colleagues for their inaction on racefields.

Little wonder that the NBR (National Business Review) rated Guy the least impressive Minister during the last term of National government. During the debate, he was shut down by the Speaker of the House for his lack of argument.

Guy is the person who appointed Glenda Hughes as Chair of NZRB and Hughes, in turn, was responsible for the appointment of CEO John Allen – none of those three have made a positive contribution; three more non-racing people which thoroughbred history will place in the ever-increasing basket of failed leaders.

National MP for Central Auckland Nikki Kaye was less than impressive when she argued that sports were getting a less than fair deal with the new Bill. She talked aimlessly for 10 minutes and not only showed she had failed to comprehend the Bill, but displayed a complete lack of understanding of how sports gain a cut of the betting despite not having either been part of the initiation of the TAB, or having contributed anything towards the running costs of its administration, retail or online services.

Kaye doesn’t understand that the two racing reform bills are designed to increase revenue, and as that expands so does the take for sports. The POC (Point of Consumption) levy means that any resident of New Zealand who places bets on a sporting event with an Australian corporate bookmaker will soon see a percentage of that bet returned to the sport in NZ – a new revenue stream and a first for this country.

Kaye also hasn’t grasped that $50 million of racing’s money has been used to build a FOB (Fixed-Odds-Betting) platform which is essentially designed to increase sports options and sports betting which will increase the sports take. Not much of a deal for racing for which we can thank CEO Allen.

Nor has she taken into account the moral high-ground on the history of the TAB – started in 1951 by the racing clubs for the benefit of racing. Along the way, sports hitched a ride and have gleaned a percentage with no contribution to the running costs.

Sports currently get around $10 million annually from the TAB which makes it the country’s second-biggest avenue of financial support behind the government. And now they want to bite the hand that feeds them.

The margins on sports betting are a lot less than racing. For example, the gross profit is historically between eight and nine percent from which sports would be paid a net two percent and racing a net two percent. But Allen has admitted that in the first three months of the FOB (January to March) the margins were running at, not nine, but only three percent, and given the competitiveness of the global market, the margins are likely to have remained skinny ever since.

The Kaye argument is non-sensical, but the gradual infiltration of sporting people into NZRB over many years is now seeing sports putting it its hand up for a larger share of the pie even though the pie was cooked-up from a racing recipe with all ingredients paid for by racing.

In the overall scheme of politics, it has to be said that National on Tuesday did not show the racing industry enough understanding or sympathy to win back the racing vote if an election happened tomorrow.

The Debating Chamber mostly emptied-out for Tuesday’s reading, speeches, and debate, and the them and us battle lines were drawn for those who remained. The banter was characterised with disingenuous performances of either reading from a script or just towing the party line – if it were the pop-up globe theatre putting on a Shakespearean play the actors would have been booed-off the stage.

The day was a resounding win to Minister Peters and racing, and in yesterday’s budget also came an allocation of $3.5 million which is likely to be for the running costs for RITA to carry out the transition of every item contained in the two Bills which will take a year.

That $3.5 million is part of a $46.5 benefit to racing that will come back over the next four seasons, the majority being the repeal of the betting levy. Although the exact use of the $3.5 million isn’t specified, the major slice may be in place for RITA’s Change Management Plan which will undoubtedly incur costs through restructuring.

July 1st can’t come around fast enough!

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For fooks sake Leo, just became the “Nikki’s of this world hang around the Viaduct, it doesn’t mean that the real people of the rest of NZ don’t know what they are talking about. 

Again for fooks sake, your mob had 9 years to fook everything up, and what a bloody good job they did. 

Lets see who gets more likes, your post above or mine!

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I will put my hand up as a lifelong National voter and someone who dislikes Winston for his usually self serving hypocrisy.  He has done more  for racing in a year than Nationals Guy and Bennett did over a decade.  I think based on recent events he should be given the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise.   

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But Allen has admitted that in the first three months of the FOB (January to March) the margins were running at, not nine, but only three percent, and given the competitiveness of the global market, the margins are likely to have remained skinny ever since.

At 3% for January to March your advertising and marketing costs, agents fees, sports codes fees,staffing costs, interest on the loans to cover the platform development cost and running costs from Sportsbet to price and result the sports that would 100% result in a deficit situation. So the bottom line is those months were a liability to the NZ Racing Industry. The sports odds previous to the new betting platform had an average of 3.5% factored  in as on overlay on the odds to help to pay the above costs. Now Sportsbet price the sports odds they enter in  their odds which are that average of 3.5% more. So yes Sports do contribute to turnover but due to bad management your giving away more than  the Company can afford to do so. So if Australia bookies pay a fee to take betting on NZ Sports events that will be negated by the lesser % on the odds offered.  Then factor in the millions a year Sportsbet are charging to manage and price the sports markets. The $50 million cost of the Betting Platform and the $17,000,000 a year to pay to Open Bet and Paddy Power to run and maintain the Platform all covered by the Racing Industry means there is only one outfit carrying the other and its pretty obvious which one that is. Sports turnover for those 3 months at 3% compared to the 9% prior to the Betting Platform means that the Sports Betting needed to be 200% higher to compensate for the reduced % level and we know that wouldn't go close to happening. Whoever allowed the above to happen is totally clueless on basic understanding of costs verse expenses, you wouldn't leave them in change of your kids piggy bank. No Company can operate on increased costs verse  lower product % returns. The same overrun on expenses in other areas no doubt has also escalated the Industry's financial plight. Going on the above and what was promised to be returned from the betting platform I hate to think what RITA will find.

I can see RITA putting their hands up and saying we are %$#@ed. The only solution will be outsourcing everything to TABCORP as the they won't be able to sort out all the problems  needing to be addressed in the limited amount of time they will have. In any other Company answerable to shareholders the Board is gone, senior management is gone and anyone who was associated with the Betting Platform purchase is gone. Their incompetence has cost the Industry 10's of millions and they have the audacity to keep pulling inflated salary's verse performance every week.

Once NZRB start charging Australia a fee on their customers betting on NZ Sporting events what do you think Australia will turn around and do. NRL, AFL, Football, Cricket & Basketball sports events that NZRB take customer bets on will be charged a fee on. Joint trade agreements between the two countries provide for equal protection. The difference between NZ's Australians sports betting verse theirs on NZ Sports will be miles apart. NZRB can't not agree to pay Australia when they enforce a charge on them. Bottom line is NZ Racing Industry will be %$#$ed over.

TABCORP outsourcing may resolve the problem. 

As for Nikki Kaye she may have beaten Jacinda in an Electorate but she didn't need to know and doesn't the financial impacts of  Sports Betting through poor NZRB management is having on the NZ Racing Industry. I am surprised she didn't say she knows about the NZ Racing Industry as once she won an egg and spoon race.

I hope at every Regional visit that John Allen made he put his hand up apologised  and said we $#@%ed up and not one of the promises we made on the returns from the new betting platform has eventuated.   



John Allen "The actual board, in terms of the employees, will continue.

"It is not automatic that the 700 people in the racing board lose their jobs.''

You Sir are living in cuckoo land it should be automatic that 700 number is reduced by you and you senior management. RITA is coming in to  take over total management July 1st your and senior management are surplus to requirements. If they are managing there's nothing for this lot to do, mind you if they had stayed at home in bed and collected their pay checks the Industry would be no worse of than what it is now.  

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6 hours ago, poundforpound said:

How bizarre and detached from reality is De Lore.....this is Nikki Kaye who beat Jacinda twice in Auckland Central....she’s no lightweight....the same Nikki Kaye who is opposition spokesperson on sport....

Sports actually contribute to TAB & industry running costs every time someone has a bet on a sports event...and guess what...sports betting is growing, even under the new platform.....but racing is shrinking....they’re inverted revenue curves FFS so one is going to thrive while the other wilts

In other words sports betting is carrying racing at the moment and sooner rather than later the wider community will want sports to get a fair deal and have them stop subsidizing racing.

Someone should gag De Lore....he’s clearly not very bright and he does more damage than good with his naive rambling.


National MP for Central Auckland Nikki Kaye was less than impressive when she argued that sports were getting a less than fair deal with the new Bill. She talked aimlessly for 10 minutes and not only showed she had failed to comprehend the Bill, but displayed a complete lack of understanding of how sports gain a cut of the betting despite not having either been part of the initiation of the TAB, or having contributed anything towards the running costs of its administration, retail or online services.

I remember a few years back P4P admitting on here he wasn't up with the play when it came to the technicalities of gambling. This post confirms that assertion 100%. 

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1 hour ago, poundforpound said:

OMG....”who gets more likes”...you’re like a 12 year old girl on Instagram  !!


Look at your club Liz, Trentham, a national disgrace in the dysfunctional way they’re failed the industry with fiscal mismanagement, idiotic administration, total neglect of horse welfare, but now you’ve got your grubby little mits out wanting another handout.....two words...F... OFF


My generous friend.....There has been a litany of disgraceful appointments made to the various boards using a structure that was not self sustainable. The tipping point has been the appointment of a board by an unintelligent minister accepted to be the most appropriate person available by a government, who had no interest or knowledge of racing or betting required to clean up the litany of mistakes made over a considerable time period by governments and appointees who quite frankly don't know the concept of success.

In respect of racing, it has been hijacked by relatively incompetent people in respect of racing and betting knowledge. No-one can tell me that swing and miss Jackson shines out as a leader, a manager or a person with the in depth industry analysis to steer the thoroughbred racing ship. The same can be said about Glenda Hughes, who to my way of thinking hasn't accumulated very many "Likes" since she rolled up her ample sleeves. The jury would probably find in favour that the appointment of a CEO without any horse, racing or betting experience was short sighted and ill advised but that then would mean that all the board have issues as they collectively appointed him and no doubt these will be addressed with the new RITA appointments. I just hope they listen.

You talk of Trentham, and I agree, the management of Trentham has been woeful and its fall from grace has been meteoric in terms of speed to impact.  But that is all about systems and management, of which swing and miss has a role to play.

I don't think racing needs a handout. It needs to rationalise and be left alone to carry out the business it needs to promote. It doesn't though, need political interference or a structure that requires government's input. It needs to rationalise itself to be able to self manage it's short comings and have the ability to manage the personnel required to run itself without interference. If you don't have that, then you need the odd parachute from government to band-aid the fuck-ups that its people and process make on the way because historically most government appointments have not been or adequate. If the appointments to the boards are subject to the fiduciary governmental vet tests, which just so happens to rule out 80% of the people who may be appropriate, then you have a problem from the get go because the right people don't get the nod. Our boards need to be a combination of broad thinkers,and youth who can be steered by experienced and successful businessmen who have a passion for the horse and betting. As soon as you decrease the gain in the filter to get those right people, you have an increased probability of failure.

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Until this industry becomes accountable to itself and moves on from its parasitic sense of entitlement it’ll never prosper....that’s life, NO ONE owes racing anything, least of all the taxpayer ( you an call it gummint help, it’s not, you’re bludging off the taxpayers )

Luckily for Queensland Racing the Government there don't agree with your thoughts. I wouldn't call the Industry total bludgers with the employment and taxes it pays but it should have sorted out some major problems within itself eg NZRB management and better business plans before going cap in hand to the Government wanting hand outs. The 3 Racing Codes knew the problems and should have gone to the Board and demanded they sack senior management rather than leave it to RITA to carry out. They have displayed weakness and have let their codes down big time.


Good result for Queensland but how good was it for them when Russ Hinz was Racing Minister. I admit you wouldn't have bought a second hand car from him but you can't disagree he did look after the Racing Industry. 


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