Reforms ‘will double stakes money’

Racing administrator John Mes­sara’s plan to revitalise the New Zealand racing industry was...
Racing administrator John Mes­sara’s plan to revitalise the New Zealand racing industry was revealed in Hamilton last night. PHOTO: BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHERS
Australian administrator John Messara unveiled a plan to double racing prize money when his landmark racing report was released in Hamilton last night.

Messara’s landmark report set out a blueprint that he said would rejuvenate what he saw as a distressed industry.

The report featured adetailed 17-point plan to totally transform New Zealand racing.

Increasing prize money to $100 million a year underpins Mes­sara’s plan for rejuvenation.

"Prize money is the best lever available for administrators to reinvigorate racing,’’ Messara said.

"I estimate in New Zealand’s case that stakes would need to double if we are able to make New Zealand a globally competitive player again.

"Prize money has to be funded by recurring revenue; my review includes a series of reforms that I believe will see a doubling of stakes money.

"That increase has to be right through the system, from the smallest races to the group and listed races.’’

Messara has pointed out three key areas of change to drive an increase in racing income that will allow stakes to double.

Betting operations are one of those, and Messara recommends the TAB’s monopoly over New Zealand racing be cut.

He wants the commercial activities of the TAB to be outsourced to a large inter­national wagering operator to gain advantages of scale.

"This process should drive cost savings and incremental revenue, and offer New Zea­land customers a compelling global product.’’

Messara slammed the current legislative and regulatory set­up and recommended more administrative responsibility be handed to the racing codes.

His recommendation means the New Zealand Racing Board [NZRB] looks set for a massive shake-up.

"I believe that the current governance structure and regu­latory hierarchy do not lend themselves to the necessary level of code accountability or to sound decision-making and this can lead to unnecessary government involvement in the industry.

"Under the model I propose, the NZRB would become Wagering NZ, the holding com­pany for racing’s wagering, broadcasting and gaming activi­ties only, with its other responsibilities devolving to the codes.’’

The third area of change Messara has recommended is in the structure of clubs and racecourses.

Messara would axe 20 of the country’s 48 thoroughbred race­courses, some of them to be gone as soon as the current season is over.

Messara said he saw a stric­ken industry as he compiled research for his report.

"The deeply distressed state of New Zealand’s racing industry quickly became evi­dent, as did the dedication and resilience of those who work and have invested in it and their recognition that far­reaching reform was needed.’’

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