New Zealand plans to revamp racing industry with governance restructure

The New Zealand government has set out new plans to completely revamp the country’s horseracing industry, with proposals to impose new taxes on offshore bookmakers and establish new governance structures.

Following an industry-wide review carried out by John Messara, two new pieces of legislation are set to be rolled out by the country’s deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. The first will replace the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) with the Racing Industry Transitional Authority (RITA).

“It is essential to have this transitional governance in place,” Peters explained. “RITA will have a legislative mandate that encompasses change management as well as the current business-as-usual functions and powers of the NZRB.”

A new tax strategy has also been outlined in the new proposals, including a possible two per cent turnover tax, which is expected to raise up to NZ$24m for the country’s horse racing sector. This will come in addition to new race field fees, which will mean that operators will pay to have access to sports data in New Zealand.

“The Racing Board has always championed the need for race fields legislation in New Zealand, and so it is great to see a new bill being introduced through Parliament,” NZRB chair Glenda Hughes said.

“Race field [fees are] more than just revenue for the racing industry, it goes to the heart of the structure of our gambling regulation.

“Achieving race field [fees] and the estimated $1m a month it will deliver for racing has been a priority under the current board of directors over the past six years and it is positive news for the industry that an outcome is now within sight.”

The new plans, however, has not detailed any plans to establish a licensing system. The policy papers are reported to have dismissed the idea as it would “effectively be a formal opening-up of the New Zealand online bookmaking market, which would threaten the NZRB’s statutory monopoly”.

The second piece of legislation, due to be introduced later in 2019, will outline new governance structures for the industry. It is expected that this will establish a new betting-dedicated institution, Wagering New Zealand (WNZ), which will replace the NZRB.

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