A racing market expert has warned that the reforms in the racing industry are set to inflict more harm to the New Zealand’s people and community groups with the pieces of legislation which are aimed at boosting revenue for the dog and horse racing sector.
The two changes which have been considered controversial, especially with the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGF), are associated with the introduction of virtual horse racing and the permission given to the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) to operate more pokies in the country. Both of them are set to be brought into action at the beginning of 2020. However, Andree Froude from the PGF explained that the decision to lift the existing restrictions on poker machines will do nothing much but result in communities receiving less money from such forms of gambling.
Under the provisions of the existing law, poker machine operators have to bring back 40% of their gross proceeds generated by pokies to community projects. In comparison, amateur sports receive only 20% by the TAB, as reminded by Ms Froude. She also noted that the arrangement was made with the previous New Zealand Government, so a reduction in the amount returned to communities was expected to be seen.
According to Ms Froude, the Racing Board is getting different treatment in comparison to other gambling companies because of the arrangement that has previously been made. The Foundation, however, still believes that poker machines offered in local clubs and pubs still remain as the form of gambling which causes the most harm to New Zealand’s residents.
Gambling Act’s Section 33(3) and Introduction of Virtual Racing Cause Concern
The Totalisator Agency Board, on the other hand, has said that their staff members have to pass more courses and have better practices than the rest of the commercial gambling companies in the country. Ms Froude still claims that there is no evidence that that is so, saying there is no lesser or greater requirement for the TAB to provide host responsibilities in comparison to other gambling products’ providers.
Ms Froude from the Problem Gambling Foundation has also shared her concerns over the annulment of Section 33(3) of the Gambling Act. She has explained that if the section in question is repealed, that would basically allow the TAB to expand the number of poker machines it owns by purchasing pubs and operating them. Then, a lot of money is set to be drained from the local community to the racing industry, so she fears that in the end, there will basically be one form of gambling funded by another.
Another concern, which has been shared in regards to the introduction of virtual racing services, is that actual horse racing would move from the physical track to computer-generated horse racing content. The easy accessibility of online gambling is risky, the expert says, because such gambling could easily remain hidden, and people could spend a lot of money by using their credit cards.
According to Ms Froude, despite the fact that the Government intends to promote minimisation of gambling-related harm through part of the TAB’s levy, the planned legislative changes would affect the community.