In New Zealand, a controversial initiative is currently underway: to revitalize the racing industry by getting people to gamble more. Racing Minister Winston Peters, who’s behind the reform, has hypothesized that such measures could double the amount New Zealanders spend on betting.
Indeed, TheSpinoff.co.nz suggests that the government is taking inspiration from our own Australian economy, to get people spending an increasing amount on both horse and dog racing, as well as a myriad of additional TAB wagering opportunities.
According to statistics, the average New Zealander spends NZ$98 each year ‘wagering’ i.e. spending money on the lotto, gaming machines, casinos, and so on. In comparison, the average Australian spends over double this amount (roughly NZ$225 per annum).
It is believed that if the former can emulate the latter, it would be hugely beneficial to the country’s ailing racing industry.
Plans to revitalize horse sport in New Zealand were originally envisaged in early 2018, when racing guru John Messara was tasked with this mission by Racing Minister Winston Peters.
Later in the year, the next step in the process was unveiled, with a Ministerial Advisory Committee being appointed as a precursor to a new Racing Industry Transitional Authority, and in August, the Messara Report was released.
Lauded by Mr Peters as the savior of Thoroughbred horse racing, which he believes to be on the edge of “irreparable damage”, the report is likely to have significant implications for the gambling environment within the country.
The primary problem identified within it is this: people are simply not betting enough money to keep the industry, which adds $1.6 billion to the GDP each year, afloat.
A boost to the betting industry
At the current time, the TAB, which is operated by the New Zealand Racing Board, acts as a major source of revenue for the organization, with gaming machines also contributing a significant amount.
What those behind the initiative wish to encourage, however, is increased prize money, the consolidation of racetracks, investment in selected tracks, incentives to invest in horses, and better returns for owners. It is hoped that such actions will increase interest and engagement in the sport, thus encouraging people to wager more frequently and in greater amounts.
This is not only good news for horse racing directly but also for the on-track and online sports betting industries that have sprung up around it. The latter, in particular, is already growing apace, with directory sites like Bonus.net.nz showcasing dozens of different outlets for those who wish to play.
So what would the effect of such actions be? The answer is a simple one. A greater turnover within the racing and betting industries would go a long way towards increasing the profits of the TAB, meaning that this cultural institution would be much better protected than it currently is. In turn, it would be able to contribute an enhanced sum towards yearly GDP, making it of benefit to all.
With so much at stake, let’s hope our New Zealand brothers and sisters will soon be joining us at the bookies!