Betting operators to stay... for now

By Michael Guerin

TAB operators will be a part of most New Zealand racing for at least another year after something resembling common sense prevailed in the great Kiwi betting debate.

The TAB has partially backed down on a plan that could have been human betting operators for all but the biggest meetings replaced by self service terminals, machines that allows punters to place bets but that many do not know how to use.

The migration of on-course punters to betting either of their phones or using the machines will still continue but will be slowed to ensure a longer transition period.

That will come as a relief to racing clubs who originally thought that may not have to confront the problems for months but will do so tomorrow as the first horse racing meeting with crowds allowed with be held by Cambridge harness.

“We are relieved to hear we will be allowed operators on track so our customers can bet that way is that is what they want,” says Cambridge boss David Branch.

The plan to move away from having human betting staff on track makes economic sense as the TAB goes through drastic and much-needed cost cutting measures but it will still be jarring for many older or infrequent racegoers.

So the agreement to allow betting operators on track for the rest of this season and next year, apart from smaller mid-week industry meetings, is a fair compromise.

The smaller mid-week meetings that will be without betting operators from next season tend to attract mainly regular horse racing participants so won’t have the same walk-up crowds who are less likely to have the TAB app on their phone.

The TAB has agreed to work with clubs hosting larger meetings, like some of Ellerslie and Addington's glamour days, on bigger temporary totes to cater for casual racegoers.

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