NZ TAB requests government bailout

New Zealand’s Totalisator Agency Board, which has a monopoly on off track betting on horses and dogs is in deep financial trouble and is on the verge of collapse – and covid 19 is mostly to blame.

The board of the TAB has asked the government for a cash bailout to which the government has yet to respond.

The whole racing industry is being controversially restructured to reduce the number of tracks and to increase stakes for fewer, but bigger events. The Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) which currently owns the TAB is managing the process, and its chief operating officer Stephen Henry has told TAB staff that the agency’s financial position is dire.

Cancellation of many sporting events due to the coronavirus had cost the TAB $14 million ($8.7 million) in revenue and it had also made an error over bonus bets resulting in a loss of $3.8 million.

The government is about to ban all meetings of more than 100 people, and already race meetings were being held with no spectators. Mr Henry said soon race meetings could be cancelled altogether, particularly if anyone involved tested positive for coronavirus.

The TAB has cancelled television coverage, cut expenses and would ask staff to reduce hours or work five days for four day’s pay to help the business stay afloat.  He said the government was “responsive but not definitive” on the question of financial assistance.