Industry update - HRNZ Chief Executive Gary Woodham

Industry update - HRNZ Chief Executive Gary Woodham

2022 was a turbulent year for our sport, and the signs are that 2023 will also have its challenges.

Latest figures show that stakes and Gross Betting Revenue improved during 2022 but total turnover was down, albeit marginally.

In December the TAB announced it was cutting its funding to harness racing by $4.4m, effective from February 1, 2023.

Already HRNZ has announced how it will operate under this new regime.

1. HRNZ will use $2.1m of its reserves to make up the shortfall.

2. HRNZ will reduce its spending by approximately 10 per cent or $420,000 between now and July 31 by deferring non-urgent projects.

3. HRNZ will reduce funding for stakes by 10 per cent from 1 February 2023 through to 31 July 2023. All meetings, including Premier / Group race meetings, will be affected. Clubs can decide the best way of managing this reduction in funding for stakes.

4. In addition, three Wednesday meetings at Addington during May 2023 will now not be held.

The latest figures collated for the calendar year (2022) make for interesting reading.

Total turnover from January 1 to December 31 was $203,744,811, down just over half a million dollars on the previous 12 months. ($523,744 to be precise). That was largely due to there being one less race meeting in 2022 - from 248 to 247. Total races fell by 12 to 2342.

The average turnover per race was $86,772.40 in 2022, up $219.80 on 2021. Export turnover was up by $560,082 to $68,717,720.

Total Gross Betting Revenue (GBR), a key metric, was also up, by $903,098. It was $35,410,450 in 2021 and $36,313,548 in 2022. That equates to a $462.70 increase per race.

Gross Betting revenue is the difference between the amount wagered and the winning payouts - it is not profit per se. TAB costs are then deducted to determine profit.

Stakes rose by $1308.90 per race in 2022 over the previous year to average $14,170.90. Total HRNZ-funded stakes were up nearly $3m for the year ($2,911,056) to $33,188,168.

Starters declined by 689 - from 24,463 to 23,774 (2022). This is the major concern. Without product to bet on we won't be able to grow our sport. If we were able to race every horse one more time during the year it would compensate for the decline in numbers.

And we are not alone in facing downturns. Figures from North America show there's been a 8.33% decline in wagering there over the past 12 months to $1,487,258,371.

Our figures are not all doom and gloom at all but they do bring into focus the job that lies ahead.

2023 will be a challenge, but with our sport and the TAB working together I am optimistic our joint strategies will benefit harness racing going forward.




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