Racing Industry Taking Steps in the Face of COVID-19 Threat

Leaders of New Zealand’s racing industry are working closely together to combat the threat posed to the sector from COVID-19.

The TAB, which provided $162m of funding to sustain racing and sport in New Zealand in 2019, continues to provide a variety of racing and sport options, however it has seen a significant reduction in content available to customers following the cancellation and postponement of racing and sporting events and fixtures around the world.

The Chairs and Chief Executive of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, Harness Racing New Zealand and Greyhound Racing New Zealand met yesterday with the TAB to discuss a coordinated approach to tackle the impact of COVID-19.

Dean McKenzie, Racing Industry Transition Agency Executive Chair said the TAB, and the wider racing and sport community, was facing similar unprecedented challenges being experienced by many businesses throughout New Zealand and was preparing for all eventualities.

“As a business we are planning for every possible scenario and taking steps to mitigate the impact of a significant reduction in income from wagering. We are working closely with the three racing codes and actively talking with the Government about steps we can take to maintain distributions to racing and sport in the face of this crisis.

The industry knows this is a time for planning and not panic. We continue to provide quality New Zealand and international racing to our customers and we are taking steps to introduce new sporting content to our customers. At the same time, across the industry, we’re taking steps to minimise our costs as much as possible.”

Glenda Hughes, CEO of Greyhound Racing New Zealand, said the racing community had demonstrated it could work together with a common focus to benefit everyone involved in the industry.

“We’ve got to be resolute in our commitment to look at the long term future of all sectors of the industry and we’re committed to work together in response to COVID-19.”

Bernard Saundry of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing said the TAB sustained an industry that supported the livelihoods of more than 17,000 New Zealanders and it was critical industry leaders worked together in the face of the threats posed by COVID-19.

“Like everyone around New Zealand, the racing community is worried about the potential impact of COVID-19 on their livelihoods. Right now we’re still racing but it’s prudent to take steps now to ensure the sustainability of our industry.”

Peter Jensen of Harness Racing New Zealand said the racing code was working closely with the TAB to understand the various scenarios which the industry could face over the coming months and taking steps to confront the challenge.

“While the New Zealand racing industry is taking several proactive steps to reduce the impact of COVID-19, we are working with the TAB on the possibility of a reduction or total drop in New Zealand and Australian racing products available. Clearly this scenario would have a major impact on revenue and the ability of RITA to maintain distributions to the racing industry and we’re taking collective responsibility as to how we would manage the impact of a reduction in distributions for the second half of the year, should that eventuate.”

The Chairs and CEOs of the racing codes and the TAB will meet early next week to continue discussions and will provide a further update then.

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