Cystic Fibrosis is the most common life threatening, recessive genetic condition affecting Australian children. At present there is no cure, but organisations such as Cystic Fibrosis Australia (the national body) are dedicated to funding further research into the condition, while Cystic Fibrosis NSW helps provide services and support to people in NSW who live with Cystic Fibrosis.
As you will have read elsewhere in the E-Chaser, a 65 roses race meeting will be held at each track throughout the month with every red rug winner at those meetings adding $250 to the amount raised.
Last year, with the support of the club network, the campaign raised over $40,000 and was the single biggest donation to the organisation’s fundraising campaign.
Similarly to last year, GRNSW has again partnered with the WIN and NBN television networks who will promote the 65 red rose race meetings throughout regional NSW. The campaign last year generated significant media interest raising awareness for both greyhound racing and Cystic Fibrosis and undoubtedly the 2013 version will build on this.
You can keep up-to-date throughout the month of May by checking out http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/65reddogs13 or follow@65RedDogs on twitter.
Saturday night saw the culmination of the 2013 Group 1 Macro Meats Golden Easter Egg carnival, and what a stellar night of greyhound racing it was.
The carnival is almost unrecognisable now from where it was five years ago; with this year's final night awash with quality Group racing across the board, catering for the best sprinters, stayers and upcoming stars of the sport.
I want to particularly recognise the work of GBOTA Executive Officer Brenton Scott and Operations Manager Ellen Dwyer, who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to build the event to the point where it is now, and they did a great job in showcasing our sport on Easter Saturday.
GRNSW is proud to be an event partner of the Golden Easter Egg and again thank and acknowledge the support of sponsor Ray Borda and Macro Meats.
On the track, the victory of Grigorieva Bale in the Golden Easter Egg was the maiden victory in the Group 1 for the Dailly kennel, whose trophy cabinet was otherwise full with victories in most of the major greyhound races around the country.
It capped off a great night for 'Team Dailly', having also taken out the Golden Easter Egg consolation, The Ambrosoli, with Spud Regis.
My congratulations to the Daillys on the success, and to 'Team Wheeler', who continue to consistently produce greyhounds of the highest standard and are great ambassadors for our industry.
Last night, the NSW greyhound racing industry came together for the 2012 Betfair NSW Greyhound of the Year awards, which were held for the first time at the historic Sydney Town Hall.
As has been reported in this month’s E-Chaser, Oaks Road was named the Betfair NSW Greyhound of the Year defeating Bye Bye Bucks and He Knows Uno in what the judge’s panel described as an extremely close contest.
The jubilant scenes shown by Oaks Road’s owner Eddie Kingswell, trainer Mark Gatt and all the other connections upon the announcement of the winner shows just how important the award has become to NSW participants.
Apart from Oaks Road win, another highlight of the night was the awarding of the Allen Wheeler Medal to the late Tony Finlay.
The Allen Wheeler Medal recognises an individual who has a long record of performing with distinction and dedication within the NSW greyhound racing industry and that is why Tony was such a deserving recipient.
Tony served as the Secretary of the Coonamble Greyhound Racing Club for the past three decades up until his passing last year.
It was Tony’s sheer hard work and dedication that helped make the Coonamble club such a success, as he teamed with his brother-in-law and former long time Club President Roley Green to establish the iconic Coonamble Carnival.
Tony joins Jack Bell, Perce Fletcher, Harry Pledger and Don Waldron as the recipients of the Allen Wheeler Medal.
Of course, the NSW Greyhound of the Year awards would not have be possible without the continued support of its sponsors, particularly naming rights partner Betfair.
This year was the fourth year Betfair has been the major sponsor of the NSW Greyhound of the Year awards and I would like to thank the organisation for its continued support and look forward to our partnership continuing in the years ahead.
• 18% on GRNSW administration
• 50% on prizemoney
• 19% on club administration
• 13% on industry infrastructure
In addition, a small number of participants have publicly claimed that prizemoney levels in NSW have been stagnant for many years.
Once again this is not the case.
The total prizemoney paid has increased by almost 50% over a five year period, from $15.2 million in FY2008 to more than $22.4 million in FY2012.
For FY2013, the Board of GRNSW approved a further 3% increase to prizemoney levels, ensuring that minimum prizemoney levels went up by $626,476.
While GRNSW welcomes debate about the state of greyhound racing in NSW and its future direction, the organisation will not allow false rumours and scaremongering to go unchallenged.
Revenue received under the RDA is commonly referred to as TAB Distributions.
The distribution of TAB funds between codes is governed by the 99 year Inter-Code Agreement. Under this agreement, TAB funding is essentially distributed between codes on fixed percentages with 13% being received by the greyhound industry. This arrangement was put into place in 1998 as part of the privatisation of the TAB and is also in force for 99 years.
In the financial year ending 2011, 84% of industry revenue was earned under the RDA arrangements.
In terms of revenue from RFIU, GRNSW charges fees on all Australian wagering operators fielding on NSW greyhound races based on 15% of gross margin. Gross margin can be simply understood as a wagering operator’s sales on a particular race less punter winnings on that same race.
RFIU revenue represented 15% of industry revenue in 2011 and is forecast to represent between 17% and 28% of industry revenue by 2016.
Of course one of the major issues involing funding arrangements through the RDA is the need to reform the Inter-Code funding arrangement, which I discussed at length in my previous blog post.
However there are a number of other issues that are impacting on this revenue. This includes:
- Competition: corporate bookmaker migration will continue to increase given the continual consumer shift to e-commerce. This is accentuated by increased involvement of global players such as Paddy Power, William Hill and Bet365 given the product breadth and best-of-breed technology platforms the foreign entities bring to the Australian market;
- Mobile threat: proliferation of mobile technology to result in increased competition in the core TAB business of pub and club wagering, as it continues to become easier to wager offsite;
- Cash payments in decline: migration away from cash to non-cash transactions erodes value of cash exclusivity and hence TAB turnover;
- Retail exclusivity: retail exclusivity of TAB under threat by internet betting kiosks in pub/club market (Betbox Sportsbet court case);
- Sports migration: migration away from racing to sports erodes RDA revenues as no product fees are payable on sports betting, RDA provides only for 25% of the profits; and
- Fixed odds migration: TAB introduction of fixed odds race betting to counter competition and product offering of corporate bookmakers is resulting in migration away from pari-mutuel turnover to fixed odds turnover which operates on a smaller profit margin.
Meanwhile, in terms of funding derived from the RFIU, the maximum fee that GRNSW can charge wagering operators is capped at 1.5% by Regulation.
GRNSW estimates that the existence of the cap in the Regulation will see the NSW greyhound industry forego $5.4 million in revenue in 2012/13, from which GRNSW would expected to net at least $3.6 million.
GRNSW is presently lobbying the Government to remove the cap completely, or if that is not accepted, to provide for a cap on a gross margin basis of 20% for application in circumstances where a racing controlling body determines to levy race field fees on a gross margin basis.
There are no fee caps in place within the race fields legislative regimes in operation in any other jurisdiction in Australia. The fee cap is unique to the NSW regime and places the NSW racing industry at a disadvantage by unnecessarily restricting its flexibility to determine a fee condition that it determines most appropriate for the code of racing that it is responsible for.
What is GRNSW doing?
GRNSW is embarking on a number of initiatives that will hopefully lead to funding reform.
- Taxation reform: GRNSW is working with its counterparts at Racing NSW and Harness Racing NSW on a taxation reform proposal to the NSW Government aimed at addressing the taxation disparity between NSW and the other States.
In Victoria, the tax paid on pari-mutuel betting is 7.6% of gross revenue, whilst the tax paid on fixed odds wagering is 4.38% of grow revenue. This compares to the NSW rates of 19.11% and 10.91% respectively. The Victorian racing industry will receive $100m more than the NSW racing industry in TAB distributions due to the difference in State taxes.
If the taxation reform proposal is successful, this is expected to deliver additional TAB distributions to NSW racing industry of between $50 and $80 million, netting GRNSW an additional $6.5 to $10.4 million per annum if the current Inter-Code arrangements applied;
- Race fields cap: As noted earlier GRNSW is lobbying the Minister to amend the race fields Regulation so as to receive the full benefit of its race fields fees approach. The cap is in the Regulation meaning that it can be changed by order of the Minister and does not require legislative change in Parliament. GRNSW would expected to net an additional $3.6 million this financial year if the cap was removed;
- Focusing marketing and growth activities at markets where RFIU fees makes it attractive to do so: GRNSW is focusing its marketing activities in wagering markets where the RFIU fees received make growth attractive;
- Inter-Code Growth monies review: A review of Inter-Code growth monies is currently underway; and
- Board Review: The current GRNSW Board is undertaking a review of the industry direction and will be releasing a discussion paper on the review in late January.
The strike action being taken by some participants since the start of December has created a lot of discussion both within the industry and in some regional media outlets.
Unfortunately many of the claims made in these discussions are not only misinformed, but completely untrue. As a result I feel it necessary to set the record straight on some of the more common misconceptions that are currently being spread by answering questions that have been posed to me directly by participants over the last week.
Was GRNSW one of the signatories of the Inter-Code funding agreement?
The Inter-Code was agreed in 1997. GRNSW itself was not formed until 2003 and certainly none of the current Board or management of GRNSW had a role in the agreement back in 1997.
It is an agreement entered into by the three controlling bodies of the time, which in 1997 was the Greyhound Racing Authority (GRA). Representatives of the GRA signed the agreement having consulted with representatives of the TAB Clubs throughout this period and, from what we understand, having taken independent advice.
Why will GRNSW not release the Inter-Code agreement if there is nothing to hide?
The 1997 agreement includes confidentiality clauses and does not allow GRNSW to release the document without the consent of all other parties to the agreement. Such clauses are not unusual in agreements of this kind.
Why is a legal challenge not an appropriate course of action to reform the Inter-Code arrangement and why are you leaving a legal challenge to the participant group to fund and mount?
GRNSW has over an extended period of time taken significant legal advice about this arrangement. Clearly if there was a basis for legal action with any real prospect of success which would result in our sport obtaining an improved position that action would have been taken. Simply because an agreement was entered into for 99 years and the financial realities of that agreement are not favourable to greyhound racing do not of themselves give rise to a legal cause of action.
In August this year I met with a small delegation of participants that included Tony Gannon and Bob Whitelaw. In that meeting I provided the group with an overview of the funding arrangements in place, the issues surrounding that funding and the actions being taken by GRNSW. Click here for a copy of that overview.
We spoke about the prospects of a trainers strike, as I had previously on several occasions with Tony Gannon. For the same reasons I have repeatedly stated in recent weeks, I encouraged them not to go down this path.
Notwithstanding this, the group believed it was appropriate for a further legal review to occur with Hamish Cockburn of MT Partners being recommended by this group. As such, GRNSW engaged MT Partners to provide advice. GRNSW had no pre-existing relationship with this firm having never engaged it to undertake any legal work in the past. All costs related to this advice are being met by GRNSW. Advice was sought as to the following:
a) Whether there are any prospects of applying to a Court to set the agreement aside;
b) Whether there is provision within the terms of the agreement to renegotiate or review the funding distribution; and
c) Whether there are any non-legal avenues of relief for GRNSW to explore.
The instructions issued by GRNSW to the lawyers were agreed to by the participant group represented by Tony Gannon. Further, GRNSW agreed to make irrevocable instructions to MT Partners to disclose to Tony Gannon advice provided to GRNSW in relation to the Inter-Code Agreement whilst at the same time ensuring that the confidentiality obligations of GRNSW with respect to the Agreement were met.
In October, MT Partners provided verbal advice to both GRNSW and Tony Gannon that the prospects of any viable legal course of action looked unlikely. At the time of writing this, final written advice has not been received.
I further offered in October to attempt to assist Tony Gannon to get an audience with the Minister for Gaming and Racing. Tony Gannon made it clear that he only wanted to meet with the Minister if he was going to put an offer on the table to address the Inter-Code Agreement. This was not going to occur.
Why does GRNSW not support the NSW Labor Opposition’s call for a parliamentary inquiry into the Inter-Code funding arrangement?
GRNSW agrees that the Inter-Code needs to be updated, and is acutely aware of its deficiencies. However it should be remembered that it was the previous Labor Government that commissioned the Cameron Review (2008) which recommended an update and that the Government should intervene to ensure that this happened. At that time these recommendations were not accepted by Labor. The proposed parliamentary inquiry would simply duplicate the previous inquiry with the same outcome, to the frustration of all in the greyhound industry.
In supporting the inquiry, Labor has not suggested at all that it would support nor introduce legislation to over-ride the Inter-Code agreement.
Why is GRNSW so intent on putting on race meetings during the no show period?
As I have said previously, GRNSW believes this quasi strike will only hurt participants’ income.
Due to this we are committed to allowing those participants who want to race and earn prizemoney during the strike, the chance to do so. We firmly believe that just as people have the right to choose not to participate, they also have the right to participate and that this right should be respected and protected.
In addition, GRNSW has a legal obligation to conduct race meetings and we will do everything we can to discharge that obligation so as not to expose the sport to legal action for failure to meet its supply obligations – our frustration with the Inter-Code Agreement is not a legal defence to such a claim.
Is it true GRNSW has offered payments to participants to get them to nominate during the no show period?
No. GRNSW would never offer participants money to nominate their greyhounds, even in exceptional circumstances such as this one. Anyone who says anything to the contrary is simply lying.
Is it true that participants who have chosen to nominate during the no show period have had threats made against them?
Worryingly, GRNSW has been made aware of some telephone threats made to participants who have chosen to race during this period together with other incidents that have allegedly occurred over the last week. Each of these threats is being taken very seriously and is currently being investigated by GRNSW. Where appropriate, matters have been referred to the Police.
I want to stress that any participant who is found making threats to other participants or engaging in other such behaviour is not wanted in our sport. Those found making threats to other licensed participants would be not only violating the rules of greyhound racing, but also committing a criminal offence. This means they would face a lengthy disqualification from the sport as well as possible criminal charges.
Cooperation is essential in these matters, so I would urge anyone who has been threatened or knows of anyone who has been subject to threats to come forward and contact GRNSW so action can be taken immediately.
Finally, GRNSW is doing everything to ensure the safety of its participants by working closely with the clubs, NSW Police and boosting security at all TAB tracks during this no show period. Those of you who have attended race meetings since last week will have noticed these measures.
What is GRNSW doing to change the Inter-Code funding arrangement?
For some time, GRNSW has been lobbying for both major political parties to implement the recommendations of the Cameron Report, which would place each code of racing in NSW into a commercial environment where its success would be determined by its own performance. GRNSW has lobbied government direct and also worked with professional political advisors throughout this period.
Many of you would recall the very public ‘Our Fair Share’ campaign that GRNSW engaged in following the release of the Cameron Report in 2008. This was an independent assessment of the NSW racing industry commissioned by the former Labor Government who abandoned its recommendations about Inter-Code reform.
There is little secret that the relationship of GRNSW and the former Minister significantly deteriorated as a result of the very public and persistent campaign conducted by GRNSW. Indeed GRNSW was encouraged on more than one occasion by some industry bodies to tone down the nature of the campaign.
The matter continues to be pressed with the current Government even though it did not commission the Cameron Report. Minister for Gaming and Racing George Souris has been consistent in his view that he sees this as a private matter between the three codes. That we do not agree with this view has been clear to and is understood by the Minister.
Notwithstanding this, the Minister has repeatedly put to industry stakeholders that the current Inter-Code Growth monies review as provided for within the terms of the Agreement should be the immediate focus of the sport on this matter.
The article in this month’s E-Chaser provides an overview of the penalty categories and the types of prohibited substances that fall within each category.
These changes come from a broad review of our approach to drug detection that has already seen the budget for race day swabbing doubled, the number of swabs taken per meeting significantly increased, and a concerted effort by our Greyhound Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit to provide instructive information to participants through regular seminars at race meetings across the state.
As part of these changes we have also adopted a new framework for dealing with prohibited substance matters.
The new framework draws on aspects of the judicial systems utilised in the sports of AFL and NRL as well as concepts utilised in other racing codes in Australia.
For instance Harness Racing NSW introduced penalty guidelines earlier this year, which can be viewed here.
The framework GRNSW has adopted incorporates the concept of an early guilty plea in combination with a schedule of penalties that are attached to defined categories of prohibited substances. This concept is also used in both the NRL and AFL judicial systems.
All positive swab cases considered as serious in nature will continue to be referred directly to a Stewards Inquiry, in particular, any cases involving a Category 1 or 2 prohibited substance, high levels of a particular prohibited substance and persons that have a poor record for previous blemishes under the prohibited substances rules.
Regular visitors to thedogs.com.au would have noticed in recent weeks the inclusion of a full form service for South Australian meetings and form for Tasmanian races as well.
Making it easier for punters to access information about all greyhound meetings across the country from one site is in everybody’s interest.
Over time we are hopeful of further expanding the form service on thedogs.com.au to include other states and will launch a mobile version of the website towards the end of the year.
On the track, the return of the Sportingbet Super Stayers Series will again provide an incentive to trainers and owners to race their stayers in NSW through improved prizemoney and conditions.
The series gets under way at Bathurst on 10 September and will culminate with the final heat set for 17 November.
Like last year's series - which was won by the Keith Pedrana trained Slick Lee - greyhounds will accumulate points when they participate in heats. The series will also see the return of Sullo's Sling Bonus Heats, which doubles the allocated points for all placings.
At the completion of the Sportingbet Super Stayers Series the greyhound that has accumulated the highest number of points will receive a $10,000 bonus.
In addition, the eight highest pointscorers in the series will qualify for the Sportingbet Super Stayers Final at Wentworth Park over 720m on 24 November where they will battle it out for $22,500 in prizemoney.
We appreciate Sportingbet Australia's continued support of this concept and greyhound racing in NSW.
Referring to the joint funding of the kennelling facilities, Goulburn Mulwaree Council Mayor Geoff Kettle remarked that the developments that have occurred at Goulburn are a fine example of what can be achieved when industry, government and the community work together. The Council see tremendous benefit in weekly TAB racing occurring at Goulburn with the subsequent exposure around the country via SKY Channel and all of the distribution channels that take our racing information.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council are also set to fund the lion share of a $5.7m development on the site which will provide a viewing facility for both the greyhound and harness racing tracks together with a multi-purpose facility for other sports in the community. Both GRNSW and our counterparts at HRNSW have committed $300,000 towards this development. Once complete, Goulburn will be the equal to any regional TAB track in the country.
The support and enthusiasm of the Council for greyhound racing is second to none, testament to that was the attendance of five Councillors and the General Manager of the Council at yesterday’s meeting.
Introducing TAB C racing at Goulburn is the continuation of the product expansion strategy that started in 2010 with the commencement of TAB racing at Grafton, Dubbo and Wagga. The strategy aims to increase the supply of race meetings wherever possible to maximise wagering sales, increase exposure of our sport, and deliver improved prizemoney and racing opportunities for participants.
Importantly, the prizemoney that is paid at these meetings over and above what would have been paid if the meetings remained non-TAB, is fully funded from the wagering revenue earned by GRNSW on the meetings under the race fields legislation. Leaving our fixed share arrangements with the NSW TAB to one-side, every wagering operator in the country pays race fields fees based on the revenue they generate on our meetings.
Race fields legislation revenue is a growing component of our overall revenue, it will represent close to 20% of our total income this year. TAB C racing is part of our strategy to continue to build on this income line which remains a core focus whilst our ability to grow returns from the NSW TAB is fixed under the terms of the Inter-Code arrangement.
Participants will notice a significant increase in the number of samples being taken at TAB meetings in the weeks to come and this will continue throughout the year.
Our response however is not just simply to increase the rate of sampling with the following also underway:
• A review of drug detection activities in other greyhound racing jurisdictions and racing codes, including an analysis of the percentage of starters / races swabbed and positives to runners / swabs ratios to establish swabbing benchmarks;
• A review of all positive swabs for the last year from a veterinary perspective, with substances broken up into sub-groups by type, effect and likely cause of positive result;
• A review of penalties imposed by GRNSW, benchmarked against other greyhound racing jurisdictions and racing codes;
• A review of best practice approaches to drug detection, including the policies and processes utilised in other sporting codes. With a focus on identifying alternative means of hearing positive swab cases, particularly around therapeutic substances; and
• The development of education resources to better assist participants to improve their knowledge on a range of matters relating to greyhound performance and health.
A comparison of our swabbing results for the current financial year to last make for disappointing reading.
When comparing year to date data at 31 March 2012 against the same nine month period in 2010/11 the following salient points appear:
• The number of swabs taken has increased by 35% (from 2,054 to 2,764) reflecting the deliberate approach of GRNSW to increase the amount of swabbing occurring under our present policy;
• The number of positive swabs has escalated by 82% (from 22 to 40), an extremely disappointing outcome but a testament to our current approach to drug detection; and
• 62.5% of the positive swabs are to prohibited substances of a therapeutic nature, up from 54.5% of all positive swabs in the corresponding period.
Those who participate in a race, whether as owners, trainers or the like, are entitled to expect that all other dogs will run on an equal basis. The public is entitled to expect that when they wager their money everyone will be competing on an equal basis.
We will continue to ramp up our drug detection expenditure over the next 12 months as well as investing time and money in improving training and education opportunities for participants. The latter is important as in many cases, positive swabs are the result of trainers not either being aware that the treatments they are using include a prohibited substance or they are using those treatments too close to race day.
On a different note, later this month two of our most senior staff will leave GRNSW. Our Racing Manager Greg Hore is relocating to New Zealand with his family. Greg joined GRNSW when we merged with the GHRRA regulatory unit in 2009 after filling a variety of roles throughout the industry. It would be a hard task to find a more dedicated and giving employee in any field of endeavour and Greg’s immense passion, knowledge and commitment to the sport will be missed by all.
Katrina McHattan, who heads up our Member and Club Services functions is also relocating with her partner out of Sydney. Katrina is well known to all club administrators and has been their first point of contact on all club related matters for some time working with clubs on their finances, operating standards and capital projects. In that time she has built up a great rapport and respect from those clubs and is a great loss to GRNSW.
Both Greg and Katrina leave late in June. I thank them sincerely for their efforts with GRNSW, wish them every success in the future and I’m sure those of you that have contact with either of them will do the same over coming weeks.
Every time a greyhound wearing the red rug (number one) wins a race at a designated 65 Roses Race Meeting, Greyhound Racing NSW will donate $250 to Cystic Fibrosis.
Cystic Fibrosis is the most common life threatening recessive genetic condition with nearly one in every 2,500 babies born with Cystic Fibrosis.
The condition seriously affects breathing and digestion and people living with Cystic Fibrosis may need up to two hours intensive chest physiotherapy daily so that they can breath and up to 40 enzyme tablets a day to help their digestion just to survive.
And whilst the life expectancy has improved over the last 30 years from 17 to 37 years of age, many suffers do not survive into adulthood.
The work that Cystic Fibrosis Australia undertakes is absolutely critical in improving the treatment and awareness of the condition, to extend life expectancy, quality of life and ultimately, find a cure.
Across Australia less than 30% of the required funds are provided by government, many of the programs and research initiatives being undertaken by Cystic Fibrosis Australia can only happen through community financial support.
You can assist by participating in the upcoming 65 Red Roses Race Day at your local track in May. At these meetings the local race clubs will be conducting various fundraising activitiesa and every time the red box wins a race at that meeting, GRNSW will donate $250 towards the 65 Red Roses Day appeal.
If you cannot get to a race meeting in May but would like to assist, please visit www.65rosesday.org.au where you will find plenty of information about Cystic Fibrosis and how you can assist this worthy organisation.
You can also keep up-to-date with how the Red Dogs are tracking throughout the month at www.65reddogs.org.au
Last Friday the full bench of the High Court unanimously dismissed both the Sportsbet and Betfair appeals in the race fields litigation they had instigated against both Racing NSW and Harness Racing NSW.
The decisions are important in that they provide absolute clarity that the race fields legislation is constitutionally valid and confirms the right of each racing controlling body to impose a fee on either a turnover or gross revenue model for betting on our respective races.
You will have read over the weekend about the war chests that the other two codes now have at their disposals following their success in the High Court. The amounts represent the fees that they have been collecting for the last three and half years but have been unable to spend because of the court case. In effect it has worked like a savings plan for the other codes.
From our perspective however, we have been collecting fees from all wagering operators and spending that money for the last three and half years. It is the money that we have collected from race fields legislation that has allowed us to pay an additional $19 million in prizemoney throughout that period over and above what we could have afforded to pay without using the race fields money.
Our approach to race fields to date has also allowed us to focus on growing greyhound racing in this state. In that period we have grown the number of TAB meetings being conducted with an additional 208 TAB meetings now part of our schedule. TAB racing at Wagga, Grafton and Dubbo would still be an aspiration today had we followed the path of the other two codes from a race fields perspective. When this financial year draws to a close over $1 billion will have been wagered on NSW greyhounds, setting a new benchmark for our sport.
I have been asked on several occasions over the weekend would we have received a higher return if we charged wagering operators on the basis of 1.5% of turnover as opposed to 10% of their gross margin, effectively their winnings on a particular race.
The simple answer to that is no. In the three and half years that race fields has been in place $2.9 billion has been bet on NSW greyhound races with all wagering operators combined producing a gross margin of $446m. The maths is simple, 1.5% of $2.9bn is $1 million less than 10% of $446m.
The current NSW race fields legislation is complicated by the existence of a cap on fees which does not presently allow us to charge an individual wagering operator more than 1.5% of their turnover on our races.
The current arrangements we have in place with all wagering operators under the race fields legislation are in place until 30 June 2012. In line with our established practice we will review all of the conditions, including those related to fees, prior to issuing approvals for the new financial year. Our approach will be simple, making sure the maths remains in favour of greyhound racing in NSW.
Animal welfare will again be a hot topic of conversation this week with further footage of inhumane treatment of animals in Indonesian abattoirs airing on the ABC television programme Lateline. This first became a significant public issue in 2011 when an ABC Four Corners expose into Australia’s live cattle export trade showed serious cases of animal abuse in slaughterhouses in Indonesia.
The 2011 story prompted a widespread and emotional reaction from the Australian public, which resulted in significant pressure on the Federal Government to take action to stop cruel treatment of Australian animals overseas.
Community attitudes and expectations continue to change and what was seen as acceptable practice 20 years ago today is not accepted. The live exports debate in Australia has had a significant impact in a number of ways, it has pushed animal welfare issues away from the extremes and into the mainstream and it has showed how governments can be forced to act when a community is outraged by an emotive issue.
Our sport can be proud of the advancements we have made on the animal welfare front in recent times ensuring that our practices meet modern community expectations. Included amongst the developments over the last 12 months are:
• Continued role with Corrective Services NSW with our Greyhounds as Pets Programme and development of ongoing plans to enhance the outcomes for both dogs and inmates;
• The launch of Greenhounds with the NSW Department of Local Government as a brand to facilitate and promote muzzle free greyhounds post racing as pets;
• The first Code of Practice for Greyhounds in Training, ensuring minimum standards for all greyhounds in NSW which is now the basis for all kennel inspections conducted by GRNSW.
• The establishment of our Greyhound Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit dedicated to the welfare of greyhounds in NSW;
• A strong focus on education and training including the commencement of formal training for persons associated with the industry;
• Commenced the development of protocols to educate and regulate the breeding and rearing sector;
• Continued to build our working relationship with the NSW RSPCA to improve outcomes for ex racers and regulatory monitoring of participants with the RSPCA as required;
• Development of a new IT platform OzChase which will enable the lifecycle tracking of greyhounds.
GRNSW is working with Greyhounds Australasia and the other State bodies to holistically ensure our approach to ensuring the welfare of greyhounds, including those that are exported to race internationally, meets best practice.
As is the nature with these type of awards, there will be debate amongst participants as to the relative merits of each of the finalists and other well credentialed greyhounds that missed out on a spot in the final three.
And given the amount of feature racing each and every year, there is always a tendency for the most recent performances to be at the forefront of public debate when the award actually takes into account performances across the entire 12 month period.
The night is also an opportunity to recognise the efforts of individuals who have made a significant contribution to our sport through the awarding of Volunteer of the Year, Young Person of the Year, Club of the Year and the prestigious Allen Wheeler Medal.
If you haven’t been to a Greyhound of the Year night before, I urge you to consider getting a group of friends together and coming along as it is a great night of food, drink, entertainment and an opportunity to catch up with friends involved in the sport.
As you will have read elsewhere in the E-Chaser, a new Board takes the reins of GRNSW on the 10 February.
This will see the retirement from GRNSW of our long term Chairman Percy Allan and Board members Bill Mangafas, Jack Primmer and Tom Green.
Each of these gentlemen has made a significant contribution to the progress of the sport as part of the Board and their experience and counsel has been of tremendous benefit to GRNSW over an extended period.
Our veterinary staff believe that the condition may affect up to 4% of the greyhound population and if detected early enough, can be easily managed throughout the life of the greyhound. The first veterinary fact sheet produced by our Greyhound Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit provides an overview of the condition and how it is treated. Keep an eye on the website over coming months as our veterinary team develop further fact sheets on greyhound health and welfare matters.
The Pannus decision demonstrates the benefit of establishing the Greyhound Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit in-house at GRNSW. Issues such as this can be appropriately dealt with from a veterinary perspective whilst at the same time measures can be put in place that ensure the integrity of the process by using GRNSW employed veterinarians to assess affected greyhounds.
If you have any questions about the Pannus issue, please do not hesitate to contact the office and speak to either our integrity or veterinary team.
As many of you would know by now, Dr John Newell has commenced with GRNSW as the Industry Veterinarian stationed in the Hunter / Central Coast areas. John has vast greyhound experience with particular speciality in reproduction matters and will be a great addition to the GRNSW team.
On a different note, it was pleasing to see common sense prevail with the Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) announcement last month that named greyhounds currently racing on Naming Certificates would continue to be able to race in Victoria without being micro-chipped. Our team had been receiving a large number of calls from concerned members and the decision by GRV bought it back into line with the rest Australia.
Wishing you all a prosperous 2012 with many winners.
Since assuming regulatory responsibility for the sport in 2009, GRNSW has increased the financial commitment to drug detection and to the volume of swabs taken as part of its drug detection programme.
In 2010/11 some 3,398 samples were tested, the highest number of samples tested in the last decade notwithstanding that the amount of racing in NSW has remained stagnant in that period overall. The percentage of samples declared ‘positive’ by the racing laboratories last year was just 0.77%, the lowest level recorded in the last decade.
The approach of GRNSW to drug detection accords with best practice in place in other codes and has a strong emphasis on target testing based on form and precedent, as opposed to the random ballot method in place prior to GRNSW assuming regulatory control.
The swabbing policy and its application are routinely reviewed by the General Manager, Racing & Integrity who has no direct race day stewarding role. Further, a report on swabbing activity is reviewed by the Board of GRNSW on a monthly basis. This oversight is now enhanced under our new approach to race day stewarding where TAB meetings are reviewed race by race by a senior steward who did not officiate on the respective meeting in conjunction with the Race Day Controller who was in charge of the meeting. Each race is analysed, each decision is reviewed.
Of course the allegations at the trots centre around inappropriate dealings between stewards and participants. In addition to its Code of Conduct and Pecuniary Interests declarations, GRNSW has in place a Steward Probity Monitoring and Reporting System with respect to GRNSW motor vehicles and mobile phones used by GRNSW Stewards.
All GRNSW motor vehicles are fitted with a tracking device which records the movement and location of the vehicles at any point in time. The system also stores the addresses of all licensed participants for reporting purposes. Additionally, the mobile phone accounts of each Steward are routinely reviewed to identify any inappropriate contact with licensed persons.
In September 2011, GRNSW’s internal auditors, the Internal Audit Bureau (IAB), conducted an internal probity review of the Stewards activities to ascertain whether or not there is evidence of any potential probity matters, in particular potential conflicts of interest. No integrity issues arose as a result of this independent review.
GRNSW recognises that maintaining the highest levels of integrity within our sport is integral to both participant and consumer confidence in our racing product. I am confident, when the above is added with the recent stewarding and veterinary changes, we have in place the right team and processes to ensure that.
From mid November TAB race meetings will progressively move to the new model of race day stewarding GRNSW has adopted. The initial tracks that will adopt the new approach are Bulli, Dapto, Richmond, the Gardens and Wentworth Park. The remainder of the TAB tacks will come on line later in the month with all TAB tracks to be covered by this new approach onboard by mid December.
From a trainer perspective you will not notice any significant change with the exception of race day interviews or inquiries that you may attend from time to time with the Stewards. To a large degree these race day interviews and inquiries will be conducted no differently to how they are currently, with the exception that one Steward will be in the room with you, and the other will be present via video conferencing.
My July Blog detailed why we are making these changes and the benefits that this new approach will bring to our sport. Change is never easy and indeed it is often easier to simply do nothing. However, if the sport is to continue to grow and develop in NSW then we must continue to adapt the way we run the sport to the changing environment and make best use of new technology to improve the efficiency and standard of what we do. This applies equally to GRNSW as it does to the race clubs and participants within the sport.
These changes have also lead to a number of personnel changes within GRNSW including the departure of four Stewards who have respectively served our sport with admirable dedication for, in some cases, decades. I acknowledge the efforts and contribution that Steve Howard, Roy Maynard, Martin Wright, Scott Matthews and Ear Brander Craig Jackson have made to GRNSW and the sport and wish each the best of fortune in their future endeavours.
Next time you have reason to visit our Rhodes office, please do not hesitate to ask to see the new set up to get a better appreciation of the changes that are occurring and to see them in operation.
As you will have read elsewhere in the E-Chaser, from this month GRNSW will stop issuing the traditional Naming Certificates and move to issuing Greyhound Identification Cards. The cards will include microchip numbers, ear brand details and distinguishing features – they will not include the traditional markings that were central to the Certificates.
GRNSW will continue to issue Certificates on request to those greyhounds being sent interstate to race until January 2012, thereafter all States will either be issuing cards or at least be in a position to process cards on race day.
This change has benefits for both members and GRNSW in that there is no longer a need to have greyhounds ‘marked’ prior to naming at around 12 months of age, and the naming process itself will be more efficient allowing a quicker turnaround of naming applications. At present, between 600 and 700 greyhounds are named through GRNSW every month.
Don’t forget that if you have greyhounds that are already ear branded and not yet named, and they are not yet microchipped, October is the last month in which GRNSW will be running free retrochipping sessions throughout the State. Greyhounds now must be microchipped to be named. Of course for pups, this will continue to occur free of charge along with ear branding at 12-16 weeks of age.
Many of you will have read media reports about the Government’s proposal to merge the thoroughbred and harness stewards under the umbrella of Racing NSW and some of you have been in contact with us about whether there is a plan to include greyhound racing. There is no plan to include greyhound racing in any such merger and certainly given our sport’s experience with the former Greyhound & Harness Racing Regulatory Authority, it would be a retrograde step.
Much work has occurred over the last two years to put in place robust oversight systems to ensure the integrity of our sport which will be further enhanced by the changes we are making to our approach to race day stewarding which you will start to see in operation shortly.
It is the changes we are making to our approach to policing race meetings which is generating the most discussion. In a nutshell, we will establish a “control room” at the Rhodes office that will have live feeds of the race broadcast footage, surveillance footage from the kennel blocks and video conferencing equipment to flow between the tracks the office in real time together with modern bet monitoring tools.
This will result in the split of current race day integrity functions and duties between a Steward who will be at the track, and a senior Steward who will oversee and control the meeting from the “control room”.
The three questions I have been asked most frequently since the announcement are how will these changes enhance the scrutiny, what are the other opportunities that this technology will bring, and how much will all of this cost? So I thought I would use this blog to answer these three questions.
How will this improve the oversight of our racing?
The modernisation of our approach to stewarding is designed to improve the oversight of our racing by making best use of technology. Some examples of how this will advance our approach include:
What are the other opportunities?
Aside from the regulatory enhancements, the reforms will actually provide the sport with the technology infrastructure to stream, in real time, its race vision by its own means if that need or desire arose.
Of course of the majority of broadcast rights are currently held by SKY Racing who, in its current form and ownership, our sport has a great working relationship with. The infrastructure however provides the flexibility to consider other opportunities if appropriate commercial arrangements cannot be reached in the future or if the distribution strategy of the broadcaster doesn’t meet the objectives of the sport particularly in terms of online and international distribution.
It also further strengthens our ability to expand the number of TAB meetings being conducted, from the existing venues, on an extremely efficient basis when compared to our competitors.
What will it cost?
At its simplest, these changes will save money, not cost more.
The operational efficiencies delivered by the changes will result in a reduction of staff employed to undertake stewarding and field duties. Our ongoing operating costs are also lower after these changes are implemented than they are under our present approach to stewarding and identification of greyhounds. These savings will pay for the investment in technology we are making whilst still delivering a net saving to the sport. The net saving is achieved before taking account of any new revenue opportunities available to the sport through any of the other opportunities outlined earlier.
June 1, 2011
In my blog last month, I commented in part on the advent of SKY 2 and the boon that it has heralded in for greyhound racing Australia wide.
On that front and with seemingly increased frequency, administrators in others codes are expressing the view that “there is too much racing” and “nobody is interested in all the additional racing”. Whilst the basis for these conclusions are rarely offered, one can only assume concerns about the stagnating or dwindling sales on their racing product motivates such comments.
May 1, 2011
Radley Bale’s triumph in last month’s Macro Meats Golden Easter marked another high point for the sport in New South Wales. The renaissance of the Egg over the last two years has now clearly placed the event at the pinnacle of the sport in Australia and indeed the world. It is the richest greyhound race in the world and it is the role of the sport’s custodians to ensure that it truly becomes the greatest greyhound event in the world.
Central to making the Easter Egg an event of significance is the broadcast of the colour, excitement and emotion of the event to greyhound fans both in Australia and around the world. To that end, many of the greyhound social media channels have contained conversations critical of the coverage of the event provided by Sky Racing this year.
Last year’s coverage of the event on Sky Racing 2 set a new standard for the broadcast of greyhound racing in Australia, a standard that clearly hasn’t been matched in the coverage of greyhound racing since.
Sky Racing 2 has morphed into a second wall to wall racing channel, particularly in the prime timeslots such as Saturday evenings, meaning it is no longer the vehicle that can provide the extended in-depth coverage that showcases the colour and the spectacle of the event that diehard greyhound fans demand. A handful of trainer interviews and a late mail service is about all that can be achieved when a plethora of live racing from around the globe is to be telecast.
Our sport cannot be critical of this, put simply, throughout Australia we have collectively leveraged the enhanced capacity of Sky through the creation of Sky Racing 2 to broadcast a greater number of greyhound races that is resulting in unprecedented wagering growth on our sport. So much so, more than $1 in every $5 bet on racing in NSW today is being wagered on greyhound racing. It has allowed us to take TAB racing to regional areas of the state and has regenerated the sport in areas such as Dubbo, Wagga and Grafton via increasing the profile of the sport in those areas, returning higher amounts of prizemoney to participants and creating employment opportunities throughout regional NSW that previously did not exist.
This financial year, close to $1 billion will be wagered on NSW greyhounds with wagering operators in Australia. Close to $830 million of this will be bet with the various TABs throughout the country producing revenue of close to $140m for those operators. As a rule of thumb about 70% of TAB turnover occurs in the pubs, clubs and TAB retail outlets throughout the country, accounting for around $580m of the anticipated TAB sales on NSW greyhound racing this financial year.
These numbers are critical as it is the TABs throughout the country that are the predominant customers of SKY Racing and goes to explaining why Sky Racing is about providing wall to wall content. It is about punter churn in the pubs, clubs and TABs across the country, and to its credit, Sky does this better than any other racing broadcaster in the world. Ultimately this is what creates the value in the broadcast rights that our sport sells to Sky Racing.
All of this is not to say that we should not be finding complimentary broadcast vehicles to capture the stories behind the race together with providing a ‘TVN’ like coverage of the racing itself and deliver that to greyhound fans who want to engage with our sport at a level that the current broadcast mediums do not provide.
With that in mind this year, for the first time we provided a live stream of the event on The Dogs TV enabling us to provide the type of coverage that ardent greyhound fans are demanding. The response to the coverage has been excellent with Russell Barwick, Brooke Pendlebury and Ron Arnold doing an excellent job at capturing the atmosphere, stories and excitement of the event.
Broadcasting live online also enabled greyhound fans who do not have pay television, but do have broadband internet, to share in the Egg experience. It is worth noting that the latest statistics available suggest that only 35% of households in Australia have access to pay television yet over 60% have broadband internet – a figure likely to grow even high as broadband penetration grows and internet services continue to develop in Australia.
Greyhound racing is more than a betting commodity, it is a sport with a participant and fan base that want to engage with the sport at a level beyond betting. Live streaming our showcase events on The Dogs TV allows us to do this.
April 1, 2011
I read with interest a recent economic report which provided some strong warnings about current consumer spending habits.
The report, commissioned by CommSec, was based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data and claimed spending on gambling, among other things, was significantly down over the past 12 months.
“And while we are spending more on little luxuries like shoes, sheets, pillows and sporting goods, we are cutting back on the so-called ‘sinful’ pleasures of gambling, alcohol and cigarettes,” the report said.
It stated that spending on gambling alone had slumped 4.6 per cent over the past year.
These trends have been replicated in wagering turnover on NSW greyhound racing over the same period.
Turnover has struggled to reflect year-on-year growth patterns of previous years and the impact is being felt across all three racing codes in Australia.
These are worrying signs given that wagering revenue makes the racing world go around, so we can only hope that what we are seeing is a short term aberration and not the beginning of a long-term trend.
April will be an exciting month for greyhound racing in the state, no less for the presence of the Macro Meats Golden Easter Egg Carnival which will conclude with the world’s richest greyhound race.
But we will also launch another important event in the form of the Sportingbet Super Stayers Series next week.
The series falls within the framework of our Strategic Plan, of which one aim is to promote opportunities within distance racing for participants as well as program events which encourage strong turnover on NSW greyhound races.
The Sportingbet Super Stayers Series comes on the back of recent prizemoney increases for distance racing, and with the inclusion of several bonus rounds termed “Sullo’s Sling” within the three-month event, I have no doubt the concept will be well received by the industry.
It will begin at The Gardens on Wednesday 6 April.
March 1, 2011
Friday night metropolitan greyhound racing at Wentworth Park will continue at least until July 2012.
The move from Monday night to Friday night was part of a revamped scheduled introduced in mid-2010 aimed at maximising wagering returns to the sport and capitalising on the opportunity to expand the core customer base of greyhound racing presented by scheduling changes occurring in other codes. To that end, Wentworth Park is routinely the highest holding meeting on a Friday night outside of Mooney Valley and Canterbury gallops on the TAB.
Friday night racing at Wentworth Park is not without its critics and chief amongst them is Daily Telegraph scribe Jeff Collerson. In his column on the Monday 21 February Jeff wrote that we had to “ignore the interests of a few provincial officials and put the industry first by swapping WP and Dapto timeslots”.
Only last year we considered moving the second metropolitan meeting to a Thursday night as opposed to a Friday night. Ultimately we believed that the Friday night timeslot was more conducive to exposing greyhound racing to a broader audience and targeting punters new to greyhound racing. This is about driving off-course wagering growth and expanding the customer base of our sport, and that will not be achieved simply by focusing on Thursday nights, a night already dominated by greyhound racing.
Cited to support Jeff’s call was on-course bookie Sam Vardakas who said: “Friday nights just don’t work …. My turnover is lower even than what it was on Mondays”.
On-course bookmaker turnover is a poor barometer of the performance of a meeting in 2011 – yes on-course bookie turnover on a Friday night is down when compared to Mondays by approximately 35% after the first six months, but so too is Saturday night turnover which is down by close to 20% compared to the same time last year.
Compare those results to what is being achieved off-course: pari-mutuel sales on the Friday night were $12.4m higher (49%) than those achieved on a Monday night in the year prior. Corporate bookmaker sales on a Friday are showing similar growth stats.
Punters both off-course and, through the use of modern technology, on-course, now have access to an unprecedented offering on Wentworth Park meetings.
TAB Sportsbet, Tattsbet, Centrebet, Sportsbet, Sportingbet and Betchoice are now routinely offering fixed odd markets on Wentworth Park race meetings, add this to the range of tote products available and Betfair’s betting exchange and the reality is that the spiral in terms of on-course bookmaker turnover will continue regardless of the night of the week racing occurs.
Overall we have achieved excellent sales growth in the first half of this financial year on the back of the calendar changes and the introduction of TAB C racing.
For the six months to December wagering sales on NSW greyhounds across all wagering sectors grew by $94.8m representing year to date growth of 19%.
These are good results in what is a particularly tough market at present. Tabcorp’s half yearly results are testament to that where it reported that wagering revenue in NSW on racing (all three codes) declined by 3.9% when compared to the same period the year prior. Noteworthy also was the fact that thoroughbred revenue declined by 7.2%, harness by 4.4%, yet greyhound racing increased by 9.4% in the same period (see slide 22 Click here to download)
At GRNSW we encourage feedback from all stakeholders in regards to different facets of the organisation. Looking at a more recent example, it’s why we held extensive stakeholder consultation forums throughout the Strategic Planning process and why we will be held accountable for individual projects outlined in Chasing 2020.
From next month, we will be providing you with an opportunity to ask questions directly of me which I will attempt to address in my upcoming blogs.
If you have something you would like to ask in regards to the industry, I will only be too happy to try and answer it.
Addressing as many of those questions as possible as part of Brent’s Blog will help you better understand how GRNSW intends to advance the industry.
Keep an eye out over the next month to find out how you can email your questions to GRNSW to be answered.
Last week GRNSW Stewards conducted out of competition testing for the second time this year taking over 60 samples from greyhounds statewide.
The integrity of our industry and transparency of our wagering product are of paramount importance to GRNSW and we were pleased to find out all of these samples returned negative results.
This recent batch of testing complements those taken during the Macro Meats Golden Easter Egg Carnival earlier in the year.
In relation to TAB racing, we will continue to implement the product expansion strategy that commenced in April with the advent of TAB C racing. The strategy aims to increase supply of TAB meetings wherever possible to maximise wagering sales, increase exposure of our sport, and deliver prizemoney and racing opportunities for participants. These meetings are proving extremely popular with participants and allow us to take TAB racing to areas of the state previously void of such racing.
4 May, 2009
3 March, 2009
2 February, 2009
With the temperature reaching melting point of late the action will be just as hot on the track over the coming weeks with the culmination of the National Derby and Futurity at the Gardens featuring promising young dogs of the ilk of Genista Thunder and Nova Surf.
There has been plenty of talk in the industry about the merits of moving these two Group one races to The Gardens. Whilst the quantity of nominations may have been down on recent years, the quality certainly is not. With the support of the patriotic local media Friday night’s meeting is sure to attract one of the biggest crowds seen at the venue since its opening meeting and will provide a real barometer of the success of the move. We will sit down with the club after the dust has settled and review the success of this years event.
February has a real provincial flavour in the sprinting ranks with Group racing set down for Bulli, Richmond and the Gardens. In the staying ranks the highlight will be the Group 2 Gold Cup at Wenty with our number one stayer Lilley Criminal looking to add a Gold Cup to his mantle next to her Association Cup of last month.
The prizemoney increases on a Saturday night at Wentworth Park take effect this month and we have made adjustments to the Grading Policy to accommodate these.
Essentially Wentworth Park Monday nights will be treated as a separate grading stream to Wentworth Park Saturday nights with greyhounds being able to work their way through the grades on both individual nights. However a third grade greyhound on a Saturday night will not be permitted to start below fourth grade on a Monday night.
The updated grading policy is included in this month’s edition of the E-Chaser and will commence on Monday 9th February.
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In coming weeks GRNSW will move to grading meetings on its new OzChase system. To coincide with this change GRNSW is moving to one combined NSW Grading Policy, rather than maintaining separate TAB and Non-TAB policies. Feedback on the changes, particularly as they relate to Non-TAB grading, is now called for.
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Greyhounds as Pets is a not for profit initiative coordinated by Greyhound Racing NSW. If you are interested in becoming a foster carer or adopter click here for more information.
GRNSW and TAFE NSW will launch the Certificate II - Greyhounds program in March. The program will provide new entrants to the greyhound racing industry with the skills and knowledge to further their career.