The Sunday Afternoon ‘Finish On'

In the second week of March, NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey received news that the state would suffer its largest ever cut to its share of GST.

In the second week of March, NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey received news that the state would suffer its largest ever single-year cut to its share of Goods and Services Tax receipts since it was introduced on July 1, 2000.

NSW will be $1.65 billion worse off after the Commonwealth Grants Commission cut the state's share of GST from 92.4 percent to 86.7 percent (of the $89 billion GST pool).

The Treasurer suggested there would be no cuts to services or plans to increase taxes but there is a sense of dread in respect to the wagering dollar and racing's much talked about Point of Consumption Tax.

PoCT is collected from Wagering Services Providers and imposed by means of where a punter is located and not where the event is run.

Taxation rates vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction with the ACT's 25 per cent the nation's highest while Victoria is the ‘low ball' at 10 per cent but that will become 15 percent from July 1.

A vibrant betting ring could become a thing of the past as taxes surge

That's where NSW's PoCT is at and, despite assertions to the contrary, expectation is wagering represents ‘low hanging fruit' and the upward spiral to match the Queensland PoCT (20 percent) for NSW is on the cards.

The rise and rise in PoCT has a devastating effect on turnover with TopSport's reaction to the upswing in taxes being to change its business model and intentionally drive down turnover to ~$400m after it had been as high as $1.3 billion.

A cool $900m turnaround and TopSport not only paid less taxes, they became more profitable!

PoCT is factored on gross income, where if a bookie holds $10,000 on any one event and wins $2000, tax is paid on $2000.

If the NSW Government moves PoCT to 20 percent of gross wagering, the landscape will change again.

That move would, presumably, get the Victorian bean counter's juices flowing and the prospect of making the tax standardised across state borders would be argued.

Make no mistake, the rise in PoCT in Queensland has lowered the monies flowing to Treasury from TopSport and it's a formula others will take heed of.

Higher taxation on wagering means punters lose money quicker and sports betting is a very transparent way to illustrate that.

Sunday's NRL games (Warriors v Newcastle and Cronulla v Canberra) are a case in point where, in the Canberra game, the ‘line betting' is $1.90 if you want to back either team.

That was once $1.95 but taxation hikes have forced the lower return which, simply put, makes punters lose money quicker.

It's akin to a poker machine returning 90c in the dollar for every spin … the outcome is always in the ‘house's' favour.

Daniel Mookhey's next move might appease the anti-racing lobby but it will be a nail in the coffin for racing.

The government returns only 50 per cent of PoCT to the racing codes in NSW and greyhound racing's return is factored on the paralysing Inter-Code Agreement signed in the late 90's for the privatisation of the TAB.

While pari-mutuel wagering (which the Inter-Code Agreement remunerates on) is dying a slow death, its effect on taxation is real.

Greyhound racing in NSW receives just 13 per cent of what's available to the three codes and all that funds GWIC.

Harness and gallops regulate themselves and, while having to budget for integrity and welfare, each can do what it likes with PoCT – greyhound racing does not have that ‘luxury'.


CHANGE FOR THE BETTER?

The Easter racing schedule has long been a highlight on the calendar regardless of the gallops and dogs.

Until recently, we'd have already been celebrating the 2024 Golden Easter Egg winner but that's two weeks away with the change made in order to attempt – and I use the word loosely – to give the Group Racing Calendar more flexibility.

Whether the GRC can ever be streamlined is a question for another day yet the decision to allow Free For All-quality dogs to start in Wednesday's New Sensation is curious.

The New Sensation came into being to provide a conduit for young sprinters to ease into the rough-and-tumble of Group racing yet the eligibility (no more than 10 wins or 20 starts) was dropped last year.

Good luck to those who elected to take on the New Sensation rather than the GEE, it's a decision made in the best interests of the dog(s) yet another move around the two features is perplexing.

Racing at Wentworth Park on Wednesday will feature the New Sensation heats

At every engagement with industry, GRNSW has enunciated the need to maximum field sizes to advance wagering which, at the end of the day, represents revenue back to industry.

This time – with a stark shortage of dogs being targeted at the Egg – trainers were allowed to nominate for both the Saturday Egg heats and New Sensation with the option to scratch (without penalty) from Wednesday's heats of the New Sensation if a semi-final berth had been secured for the Egg.

Desperate times, desperate measures I suppose but Wednesday's four New Sensation heats include eight dogs which raced in the GEE heats and four – Angel Shirley, Overflow Beau, Mackenna, Zipping Megatron – qualified for the April 6 semi-finals.

The outcome sets a real precedent and heat one on Wednesday has been reduced to six starters (at the very most) as is heat four (Race 10) while seven will contest heat two (originally a full field of eight) yet heat three had only seven drawn originally and is unaffected (at this stage).

GRNSW wants to talk about full fields, wagering and revenue but they backed themselves into a corner with this episode.

The answer might not be palatable yet it's surely "less is more".

Is this New Sensation surplus to requirements?

It's now a mini Golden Easter Egg and, seemingly, both cannot co-exist in this era of declining breeding numbers (more on that next week).

EXTRAORDINARY

Very interesting few days coming up for the NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers' Association.

Nominations for the Board elections closed this week and only two districts (Western and South Coast/Southern Tablelands) will not need a ballot to formulate a new Board which comes into being on June 1.

Before the ballot is decided (and there will be a pitched battle in a couple of regions), members will be asked to vote on a motion to extend the term of the incumbent board for up to a period of nine months.

The rationale is around the GBOTA's desire to reconstitute the association and retain this board to oversee guidance.

Part of the new deed is to streamline (reduce) regional representation which would see seven districts revert to three regions with two Board members per region.

The GBOTA certainly needs realignment as the footprint of the association has changed dramatically over the past 15 years and membership has fallen away dramatically since the heady days of the 80's and 90's.

Change will only come via a 75 per cent majority of membership being secured yet on April 7, an extraordinary General Meeting will be held at the Greyhound Social Club to vote on the Board's extension and the mood I'm getting is the "No Vote" is $1.01 to hold sway.

Seems there is a deal of discontent with the GBOTA membership and the upcoming election will be di-no-mite!

REMOTE CONTROL

The decision by Sky Racing to have race callers work remotely (not at the track) has had its share of criticism but broadcasters are impervious to the shortcomings.

On Saturday, Race 11 at Dubbo was a case in point.

Steel Boots won narrowly from Secret Treasure with Flaming Astrid third while Razor Edge was just over three lengths away, fourth.

Racecallers not being on track is creating issues

The GRNSW replay runs for 6.01 minutes and, at the end of the vision, the result had not been properly semaphored and the actual result was nine minutes in the making.

Without the broadcaster on site, punters were none the wiser regarding the race result and no communication from stewards or the judge to the race caller was possible.

CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME

Not too long back, there was next to no racing or professional sport conducted on Good Friday but how things have changed!

On Friday, yes Good Friday, five gallop meetings were conducted on these shores – two in Victoria and WA while Canberra conducted a 9-race card.

In greyhound racing, another five were decided with Geelong, Horsham and Traralgon each attracting strong nominations – with 35 races conducted across the state.

Hobart and Mandurah were the other two greyhound venues up and running while four harness meetings (two in Victoria) were run.

It's interesting the uptake in Victoria is so vast but no racing in all three codes was conducted in NSW, SA or Queensland.

And the Good Friday meetings in the Garden State have an energy of their own.

GRV's Good Friday Appeal was a huge success

Over 1000 people attended Friday's Traralgon meeting – a metric GRNSW would be overjoyed to board on Golden Easter Egg night (April 13).

Traralgon's management targeted families and the day proved a massive success for greyhound racing and the high-profile Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

Prior to the Traralgon meeting, Greyhound Racing Victoria – in conjunction with Sportsbet and the state's 13 race clubs – raised just over $50,000 via the Blue Rug Campaign and that number may be lifted by tens of thousands from the Good Friday gathering.

The community engagement is something which is tangible at this time when anti-racing ‘narks' promote lies and seem capable of drawing notoriety to manufactured propaganda.

Maybe it's a cost element (penalty rates for workers) which inhibits other jurisdictions from attempting to replicate the Victorian framework but, for now, GRV is on a winner and it's never too late to copy and paste what cleanly is a winner for industry.

THE BIG ISSUE

While rain has been the enemy for greyhound racing in South East Queensland this month, the bigger issue in the Sunshine State is with rehoming and the Queensland Racing and Integrity Commission's Greyhound Adoption Program.

Broadcaster Peter Gleeson, on 4BC this week, exposed the vast cost associated with the QRIC – a staggering $33m for all three codes considering there are only six greyhound tracks and three harness venues to oversee.

An internal inquiry is ongoing at QRIC and we should let that run its course but rehoming in Queensland is a ‘basket case'.

Breeders in Queensland have benefitted from a very lucrative scheme where $1250 is available when a dog has his/her first start ($250 to the trainer and $500 to both breeder and owner), a further $1000 for the first and second wins while more monies flood in should the dog secure a Masters race when eligible at 42 months of age.

The quick return(s) has seen utilization rates improve sharply (number of dogs whelped as a ratio to starters) but there is a downside.

The first start payment needs to be delayed so that one-start maidens are not immediately dropped into a GAP program.

An alternative would be to withhold those early payments until the dog has attained a fixed number of starts (20?) or only pay after 10 starts have been accrued.

The fact is greyhounds are being dumped into QGAP which are not competitive in day-to-day grading events in Queensland and they must be allowed to race against like kinds (albeit for lower stakes) in time-restricted or pathways events.

It's all doable, it's a matter of lateral thinking.

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