On August 1st 2020, New Zealand’s Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) handed over the metaphorical reins of New Zealand’s sports and racing betting industry to the TAB NZ.
This follows a 13-month transition process whereby the ageing New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) dissolved and was replaced by the bright, shiny new Racing Industry Transition Agency, which has now mutated into the familiar TAB NZ.
According to Dean McKenzie, TAB NZ interim-executive chair, this change “represents more than just a name change.”
“TAB NZ will now have a sole focus on our customers and to maximise its profits for the racing industry and returns for sports, while at the same time ensuring the risks of problem and underage gambling are managed.”
While it’s extremely comforting to know that TAB NZ will now look to maximise their profits and manage underage gambling, it’s hard to ignore the fact that this change comes on the back of a tough few, Coronavirus filled, months.
Here are some of the highlights.
- A March 2020 error with Bonus Bets cost the TAB $3.8 million.
- 230 jobs were cut in May 2020, representing a 30% reduction of TAB staff.
- In May 2020, the NZ racing industry received a $72.5 million emergency package just days before becoming insolvent.
- TAB revenue for the first 6-months of 2020 was 8% below projections.
These tough few months come on the back of an even tougher few years as the TAB in New Zealand has seen falling revenue, increased costs and as Winston Peters puts it simply, “several years of financial underperformance.”
The reason for this, however, does not have much to do with Covid-19.
Instead, the TAB’s downfall is largely due to the increase in popularity of bigger, better betting sites.
In a 2015 government report on offshore racing and sports betting, a working group wrote that;
“The New Zealand Racing Board has found it difficult to compete against offshore gambling operators in the online market because competitors offer better odds, a bigger product range and better services.”
Offshore bookies like Bet365, Betway and 888sport are now estimated to have around 80,000 New Zealand customers, representing, “around half of the entire New Zealand TAB account customer base.”
As more and more New Zealanders realise the value of these offshore betting sites, their weekly bonus offers, competitive odds, wide-range of NZ and international sports markets, and live-streaming options, it’s hard to see a way back for the New Zealand TAB.
But who knows right?
Maybe the TAB’s new status as the head of New Zealand’s racing and sports betting industry is the beginning of something beautiful.
Or maybe it’s the end of an era as we know it.
However, if you put your trust in Mr Peters then you’ll be happy to know that he has New Zealands’s betting industry at the forefront of his agenda even borrowing Donald Trump’s famous line and asserting that,
“We are going to make racing great again.”