NZ reforms would allow bets during horse races

Nathan Guy
Nathan Guy: Public feedback sought on reform package.

New Zealand’s central betting agency will be able to take bets on more events and also accept wagers during horse races under a reform package to tackle offshore betting.

Many offshore gambling operators use New Zealand racing and sporting event data for betting purposes, but do not contribute to the costs of producing the racing or sport activities from which they profit.

Racing Minister Nathan Guy is seeking public feedback on proposed changes to the Racing Act, after a report released last year by a working group found that a growing number of New Zealanders were gambling through offshore betting agencies.

It said if no steps were taken, potential revenue would continue to be lost to offshore gambling operators.

The country’s state-legislated TAB will be given more scope around betting under the proposed reforms.

“In 2015, about 40,000 New Zealanders turned over $NZ518 million offshore with $58 million in losses – this represents potential lost revenue of up to $45 million for local racing and sports organisations,” Guy said.

By law, the New Zealand Racing Board is the only New Zealand-based provider of racing and sports betting via the TAB. The board distributes any profits back to racing and sports in New Zealand.

“This system ensures any proceeds from gambling support the local sporting and racing activities that make that gambling possible in the first place, and that punters operate within a regulatory framework that minimises gambling harm,” he said.

“Neither of these things occur when people bet with offshore providers.”

The working group developed proposals aimed at making the TAB more competitive, and to help ensure that offshore providers paid their fair share of support back to local racing and sport groups.

The reforms would include:

  • Removing the prohibition on the TAB taking bets during a race. Currently, bets can be placed in-game only on other sports.
  • Removing the restriction that requires the TAB to offer bets only on sports represented by national sporting organisations.
  • Permitting the TAB to expand its range of gambling products to include betting on novelty prediction events.

The reforms also propose a consumption fee for offshore gambling operators accepting bets from New Zealand and a “use of data” fee for offshore gambling operators using New Zealand race and sport data.

“These proposals are not designed to get more people gambling,” Guy said. “It’s about attracting New Zealand money currently gambled overseas back within our framework. This will support local racing and sports, and better mitigate gambling harm.”

The New Zealand racing industry is a major contributor to the economy, generating $1.6 billion in gross domestic product. It provides for 17,000 full-time jobs.

The deadline for submissions is May 27.

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