Racing Queensland will have less cash to put towards prize money and racetrack upkeep after Tattsbet (The official wagering partner of Racing Queensland) announced that contributions to the thoroughbred industry would fall once again this year.
The thoroughbred arm of Racing Queensland will receive about $97.6 million from Tattsbet this year, which is $1 million less than 12 months ago and $4 million less than two years ago. Under the current agreement around 30 per cent of Tattsbet turnover is forwarded to Racing Queensland, who in turn use the cash for prize money and other running costs.
The major reason for the downturn is the fact that punters are shying away from pari-mutuel betting (the tote), which has traditionally been the life blood of Racing Queensland.
Punters now have the option of wagering with Tattsbet fixed odds, which has no obligation to pass on profits to Racing Queensland. In 2004-5 punters gambled $11.44 million through the fixed price arm of Tattsbet. That figure ballooned to $168 million for the financial year just gone.
“It’s becoming very apparent the goose that laid the golden egg is no longer about the place,” said Racing Queensland Chief Executive Malcolm Tuttle.
“We went through a period of time in Queensland when we would go into a financial year forecasting 2 to 2.5 per cent wagering increases and without extending our programme too much we would see 3.5 per cent growth. Each per cent was worth about a million dollars. Those days are long gone, it’s a much tighter environment now.”
Tuttle went on to say Racing Queensland was ‘flat lining’ in terms of revenue. He said that unless the government, in association with Racing Queensland were unable to find new revenue streams it would give rise to ‘serious concerns’.
Tuttle also reinforced the fact that any increases in prize money were not ‘in the foreseeable future’.
Tuttle said that immediate losses would be offset by race fields legislation, however he stressed that race clubs needed to find new ways of generating cash.
“Where the industry needs to be testing itself, both ourselves (Racing Queensland) as the principal authority and individual race clubs, who in many cases have very valuable land assets, is to explore revenue that otherwise doesn’t reside in the racing industry,” Tuttle said.
Tattsbet’s exclusive wagering license, which sees $132 million pumped into the three racing codes in Queensland, expires in June 2014. While Tattsbet are the front runners to re-acquire the license (which allows them to sell bets on Queensland premises), the distribution of revenue is up for discussion at the end of the current deal.
“That figure not only needs to be preserved, but we need to explore a way with government that we can grow that into the future. Those negotiations need to commence fairly soon.”