The Sunday Afternoon ‘Finish On'
On Monday, the Office of Gaming and Racing in conjunction with GWIC held the third of three consultative forums on greyhound racing.
On Monday, the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing in conjunction with GWIC held the third of three consultative forums on greyhound racing for 2023 at Gerringong.
The focus has been to allow participants to voice whether regulatory oversight is working to capacity and what improvements can be made.
While breeding (downturn) and greyhound rehoming are central to much discussion, the regulatory oversight provided nationally by Principal Racing Authorities was addressed yet it exploded that night on X, formerly Twitter.
In short, one of the country's big four Wagering Service Providers was ‘outed' by a punter who had his account suspended in early October citing Responsible Gambling concerns.
The NSW country-based battler had a winning account which has returned 1.8 per cent profit on turnover yet a recent acceleration of turnover was frowned upon.
After six weeks of back-and-forth emails (acceding to all requests) and phone conversations, the X post drew attention to the tawdry affair and closed on Friday with an apology and the account reactivated.
Such was the interest/concern of punters, the X post received all-but 600,000 views in five days and highlighted the lack of advocacy punters get from regulators and PRAs.
This account was deemed to be under investigation to protect the punter from himself and the WSP acted entirely on the premise of RG oversight.
It beggars' belief that a winning account could be suspended by a WSP to protect a punter from himself.
Just what are they doing to any losers or even those VIP customers who burn through cash for practice?
Those VIP's are ‘wined and dined' at sporting events and feature race meetings to not check on welfare, the business model is to retain a ‘desirable' customer base.
This case should be a watershed moment for regulators and that spiralling taxation is the enemy of all punters.
High turnover/low margin accounts are seemingly now the target of WSPs that can only harm wagering income and returns to industry.
How can a regulator turn a blind eye to such tawdry tactics?
Don't forget Anti Money Laundering oversight is another form of perverse leverage the WSPs trot out.
Time has come for the Federal Government to step up and initiate an integrity watchdog with some teeth and real bite because right now, regulators are turning a blind eye.
BUT THERE'S MORE
While on the subject of Responsible Gambling oversight – if it really existed – do ‘Bonus Bets' cut the mustard?
Bonus Bets are in place to induce a customer to deposit cash or continue betting on the notion that he/she will be getting something for free.
It's uncommon that successful punters are given unfettered access to promotions … by design many Bonus Bets are targeted at losers. Is that a responsible outcome?
At a recent Melbourne symposium of regulators and industry leaders, speakers noted that the prospect of banning Bonus Bets (which is being championed by parliamentarians) could provide a downturn of up to 25 per cent.
If wagering drops by 25 per cent, the return to industry will not drop by any less than that number.
Prize money will plummet, participation leaks and racing stock loses value.
The real question is: Is RG oversight really being utilised as intended?
Punters cannot be taxed any more, there is no more to give.
The racing industry needs tax relief and the summation below is all the evidence needed.
This Thursday, Greyhound Racing NSW will conduct the first Billy Bates Memorial at Dapto and one can only hope this is the start of something big.
Billy Bates served on the committee at Dapto from its halcyon days in the late 70's and was still actively involved until shortly before his death late last year.
Across the nation, volunteers have been the backbone of many clubs but there would not be a person who would have done more than Billy at Dapto.
A plumber by trade, Bill fixed everything that needed attention at the Dapto Showgrounds (at no cost to the club) and if it was beyond his remit, the old mates act was enacted and the repairs were also done free of charge.
He sold raffle tickets, picked up beer glasses, ran working bees, had oversight of the set-up of the once hugely successful Dapto Puppy Auction while being on hand every day of track refurbishments in 1989 (grass to sand) and in 2006 when the first turn and back straight was re-worked.
He was a trainer of some note and won many races with dogs which raced with Hayville and Springcreek prefixes while also having success with the Revon dogs which were owned by his in-laws Leon and Beryl Cummings.
The Bill Bates Memorial is a Best Eight over 600m which is on the money.
His dogs were noted for strength and this event, in time, should quickly accelerate in prestige and value prize money-wise.
Was pleasing to see Racing Queensland and the Ipswich Show Society have found common ground to extend the lease of the track at Ipswich until the new site at Purga is finished.
The outcome provides clear air for all participants in South East Queensland as, had a compromise not been found, some racing dates might well have headed to Bundaberg and or Rockhampton.
Purga's development cost has escalated sharply and, in a time of uncertainty income-wise (via wagering), a careful hand needs to be at the wheel in all jurisdictions.
In Victoria, prize money levels have been maintained only by Greyhound Racing Victoria dropping one meeting per week (Saturday morning) given a seven per cent downturn in revenue.
In NSW, wagering levels have not retracted significantly but the cost of staging non-TAB meetings across the state must surely be in focus for the GRNSW Board.
Just how long can any business sustain an operation that is unequivocally a burden on every participant statewide?
Non-TAB tracks to have closed over the past 30 years in NSW include Cootamundra, Mudgee, Forbes, Queanbeyan, Moss Vale, Griffith, Coonabarabran, Albury, Appin, Wyong, Cowra, Narrabri, Armidale, Wentworth and Orange.
How long can Coonamble, Potts Park, Young, Tamworth, Kempsey, Wauchope and Moree continue operation while never getting close to being a break-even prospect money-wise?
They are an administrative burden, return no income and must soon meet minimum track standards.
Coonamble on Sunday, with six events were conducted and only 33 nominations received from only nine different trainers. At Tamworth (November 11) there were only six races held (44 noms) while Moree and Young have not raced since June.
GRNSW's new Board has massive capital works programs to oversee and it is hardly plain sailing.
Taree is running to a very tight budget, Nowra is way behind in its initially proposed return to racing date, Goulburn's DA process with council is, seemingly, never ending while proposed Dapto, Wagga, Tamworth and central west developments will need a substantial Powerball-like windfall to be adequately funded.
And what about the cash in the bank Tweed Heads has for their oft overlooked re-development?
What $15m (or so) banked when Border Park was sold (in late 2016) has much less purchasing power in 2023/24.
These are troubling times for GRNSW considering the rent at Wentworth Park is something in the order of $30,000 per week (with little sub-letting return now) and it's likely to be the ‘biggest loser' in the state.
By all measures, breeding numbers are down across the nation and it is a metric based on affordability.
In Ireland, the situation has been stable for many years yet, with the primary breeding season well past, 2023 numbers are the lowest for a decade and have no prospect of improving in the northern winter.
Services are down 12 per cent on the previous year while the number of pups born has retracted by 19 per cent.
An interesting stat the Irish keep is the number of transfers made through the year, with 80 per cent being to English interests.
Those transfers are also in decline.
With export numbers down, the simple rule of supply and demand impacts Irish breeders and, suddenly, pups which were once in demand are being retained by breeders.
The tale is much the same on these shores and the inability to sell pups parlays into a lack in confidence to continue the practice.