The Sunday Afternoon "Finish On"

THE Northern Rivers of NSW is a critical nursery for racing yet, due to floods no racing has been conducted at Lismore since back in February.

Peter Davis

3 July 2022

THE Northern Rivers of NSW is a critical nursery for greyhound racing yet, due to floods which have decimated Lismore twice this year, no racing has been conducted at Coleman’s Point since February.

The town is still a long way from returning to a ‘business as usual’ position yet the GBOTA has decided to invest its own money in order for racing to resume.

Incoming CEO Allan Hilzinger is seeking National and State Emergency Relief Funding to assist with the vast project.

“The Board views the Northern Rivers as an important part of our future,” Hilzinger said.

“Our commitment to Lismore returning to racing in the near future is only one part of a much bigger picture in which we are committed to working with GRNSW and other key stakeholders in the region for a new track facility.

“The reality of a new track is that it will still take time for that to eventuate and the region is in need of a two-turn track ASAP.”

The view of the GBOTA to have racing available at a two-turn track in the Northern Rivers is entirely correct but the investment of what might end up being north of $500,000 at Coleman’s Point is problematic.

Circled: The Wilson River surrounds the Lismore track.

An act of God is all that stands in the way of Lismore being flooded once again and history shows it’s a common and often tragic occurrence.

The GBOTA costings are around $400,000 for the moment but so much is intangible.

The return to racing at Albion Park has no change out of $1m and there are fixed aspects around sand ($150k was spent at Richmond), track refurbishment ($120k), while electricals ($90k), lure motor(s) ($25k), Vision/Data ($60k), fencing ($40k), starting box and Geotech matting ($15k) were other Richmond outgoings.

Albion Park, even now, is utilising generators for three light poles and the semaphore board … the full rectification cost is yet to be exposed.

Capalaba spent just over $300,000 on their refurbishment and that was without the vast spend on sand.

The intangible aspect of the Lismore refit is vast and this gamble of ‘industry’ money is a real roll of the dice.

Only last week, the Courier Mail ran a story which addressed whether the Lismore CBD should be moved elsewhere due to its flooding history.

All too often: The timeline of Lismore’s floods

There’s no doubt Coleman’s Point is the wrong place for a greyhound track and the upcoming spend by the GBOTA, as well meaning as it is, is not justified in this writer’s view.

New Dawn For Punters Arrives

FRIDAY July 1 represented a line in the sand of punters in Australia with Queensland and New South Wales each substantially raising Point of Consumption Tax levies.

The Queensland Government announced a 33 per cent rise in the PoCT on June 6 while NSW Treasurer Matt Kean followed suit 15 days later with his imposition up 50 per cent – from 10 to 15 per cent of gross revenue.

Gross revenue is all incoming monies before any costs.

The Queensland announcement was lauded by Racing Queensland officials on the premise of an 80 per cent “return to industry” yet the end play has the potential to decimate turnover and be counterproductive on revenue streams.

Tabcorp, which is in the midst of a demerger of their Lottery and Wagering divisions, benefitted from the first thrust of PoCT (in South Australia in January 2017) and every state has followed suit.

It’s understood, Tabcorp’s retail monopoly pays no PoCT exposure yet the wagering giant pays an exclusivity fee for their shopfront status under the various Totalisator acts.

Such is the leverage Tabcorp had in the Queensland decision, Nine News’ Tim Arvier reported on June 8 that Tabcorp hired lobby group ANACTA Strategies to negotiate the juicy deal.

“I can tell you that ANACTA Strategies met with government officials, including the Premier’s, Treasurer’s and Racing Minister’s offices 43 times on behalf of Tabcorp,” he told 4BC’s Neil Breen.

“By March, they were meeting almost weekly with the Chief of Staff from the Racing Minister’s office.”

An important element Arvier added was that no corporate bookmakers were included in any single consultation.

So that’s the back story from early June yet the reality now strikes with wagering behemoth Sportsbet reacting swiftly on Saturday – just one day into this PoCT cash grab.

Sportsbet elected to place all Queensland meetings at the very bottom of their race field lists and, on the important “what’s on next” carousel, Queensland meetings were not included whatsoever.

Such is Tabcorp’s influence on wagering policy, this vast hike in taxation comes as no surprise.

Back in 1998, Tabcorp’s privatisation value was buoyed by the allowance of all dividends to be rounded down – to the nearest 10 cents; that is a real dividend of $1.99 becomes $1.90 and that’s across all bet types, yes, every single dividend!

It’s a massive fillip which has continued without comment for a generation.

The big influencer here has been Tabcorp. The public listed entity has a responsibility to shareholders and that’s just another hidden aspect and misdirection the advertising campaign (The Aussie Fair Play Coalition) it runs in conjunction with the Australian Hotels Association.

Of Tabcorp’s 10 major shareholders, seven are based overseas. They are The Vanguard Group, Inc., State Street Global Advisors, Inc., BlackRock, Inc., Norges Bank Investment Management, Franklin Resources, Inc., Geode Capital Management, LLC.

The only three Australian based entities are major shareholder AustralianSuper Pty. Ltd. (7.83 per cent), First Sentier Investors (Australia) IM Ltd (0.85 per cent) and Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (0.64 per cent).

The top 10 companies holding Tabcorp scrip represent 15.11 cent of the company’s capitalisation while the top 25 shareholders in Tabcorp own 28.71 per cent of the company and 13 are easily identifiable as not being based in Australia!

The Aussie Fair Play Coalition assert the profits of companies like Sportsbet and Ladbrokes goes overseas but that’s also the case with Tabcorp’s major investors.

Tabcorp’s ability to negotiate with Government is one thing yet the moot point is for any single administration to implement the wont of a lobbyist.

Just imagine the impact on poker machine turnover should the legislated minimum return (of least 90 per cent) to the player be further eroded by 50 per cent (as is the case with PoCT in NSW) and poker machine players were dumbed down to a level of 85 per cent.

The AHA would be up in arms and ‘punters’ would be going broke at an accelerated rate.

Pre Covid-19, wagering was dropping and that was arrested by cash rich stay-at-home punters. This new PoCT hit seems certain to have a negative affect on wagering and punters will pay the price.

And let’s not forget maybe 90 per cent of online bookies in Australia are locally owned and no profits leave these shores. To the Aussie Fair Play Coalition, they are just collateral damage.

KING HIT – AGAIN

While the Queensland Palaszczuk Government has offered an 80 per cent return to industry for the PoCT, the three racing codes in NSW will only receive 33 per cent of the tax receipts.

What further harms greyhound racing is the disgraceful use of the flawed inter-code agreement to divvy up the 33 per cent.

Despite contributing around 22 per cent of total revenue, greyhound racing nets just 13 per cent of parimutuel turnover and that formula will be used with PoCT distribution.

The end play is that greyhound racing in NSW will receive 4.29 per cent of the total tax income while harness racing will snare 5.61 per cent despite sales now down in the realm of 11 per cent .

Surely time has come for greyhound racing in NSW to be treated with a semblance of respect by Government in NSW.

The inter-code agreement has cost the code $100’s of millions over the course and market share is the only way PoCT should have been meted.

It might not be a big topic for the March 2023 State Election in NSW but this Liberal National Coalition has a horrid track record in the treatment of greyhound racing and it’s just added another layer of salt to an old wound.

CLEARING THE AIR

This week, the NSW Integrity Commission attempted to get on the front foot with comms regarding exceptions (for keeping other animals) at a property.

The message failed to hit the mark and CEO Steve Griffin quickly moved to clarify GWIC’s intentions.

“The message was to ensure people the need to be aware of a part of the Greyhound Racing Act at re-registration time yet it read to be part of a compliance action which it is not,” Griffin said.

In its infancy, GWIC had participants concerned about worried over inspections and regulatory heavy handedness but the ‘new’ GWIC is more focused on working with participants rather than being a virtual Big Brother.

Inspection protocols are now more transparent, for example and the latest alarm was via a communication offering that was poorly structured.