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Unification of NZ Racing Could Save $11 million Annually

27th November 2009 9:30 am GMT

With the New Zealand racing industry facing increasing challenges from offshore wagering, a new report by the Racing Industry Taskforce has estimated that the industry could save more than NZ$11 million a year, equivalent to a 12% increase in staked money, by sharing services and adopting a 'one industry' approach to delivering racing product.

The proposed changes will make NZ racing more cost-effective, efficient and successful by eliminating duplication of costs and streamlining decision-making.

The report makes three key recommendations, firstly that the NZ Thoroughbred Racing, Harness Racing NZ, NZ Greyhound Racing Association and the NZ Racing Board adopt a shared services model to make more efficient use of peoples and capital, saving $7 million a year in costs.

Secondly, that those same racing industry groups should also seek the appropriate legislative environment to establish a single industry body, Racing and Wagering New Zealand, delivering racing product which will save a further $4 million per year.

Finally, the report recommends the establishment of a Racing Council to manage the transition process.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Chairman, Guy Sargent, said the Taskforce worked hard to identify solutions to strengthen the racing industry which is facing increasing challenges from offshore wagering, competition for the entertainment dollar and a changing economic and social environment.

"Racing is a resilient industry with a proud heritage, but it needs to be stronger to compete in today's global entertainment market," said Sargent. "While racing contributes more than $1.5 billion to the economy each year, our governance structure belongs to a bygone era. It's time for a fresh start.

"The future survival of the racing industry depends on our ability to get maximum benefit from our collective resources, to think strategically and act decisively. We have to take the first step towards that future now. We have to set aside self-interest and respond positively to the Taskforce recommendations. Maintaining the status quo is not an option," he said.

New Zealand Racing Board Chairman, Michael Stiassny said the report was a blueprint for making a great sport even greater. "Racing needs strong and decisive leadership, a coherent and consistent vision and strategy, and the ability to implement that strategy quickly," he said.

"The report lays out a framework to enable the racing industry to achieve those goals and secure a sustainable future for the more than 18,000 people employed in the industry. The Taskforce Report makes a compelling financial case for change. Savings in the vicinity of $11 million a year should be seized upon by everyone in the industry."

The Board of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, who convened the Taskforce, has accepted the recommendations and will now consult widely with its members and industry participants. A vote to decide whether to accept the report recommendations and begin transition to a shared services model will be held at the NZ Thoroughbred Racing AGM on January 22nd 2010 in Wellington.

In related news, the NZ Racing Board this week appointed former 32Red Trading Director Martin Saunders as its new General Manager of Wagering. Prior to joining 32Red, Mr Saunders also served as Managing Director of Ladbrokes' International.

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