NZ race reform hits hurdles

The Minister of Racing is now taking a more cautious approach to reform of the racing industry after intense lobbying from racing clubs, warnings that the reforms are unworkable and signs from his majority coalition partner that it will not support some of the proposed changes. The Minister, Rt Hon Winston Peters, who is also Deputy Prime Minister in New Zealand’s coalition government, commissioned a report on the racing industry from prominent Australian racing identity John Messara. He recommended sweeping changes including stripping the New Zealand Racing Board of most of its powers, leasing out the TAB (which has a monopoly on off track betting) to an Australian operator, closing 28 of the country’s 48 race courses, and devolving power to run thoroughbred, harness racing and greyhounds to the respective codes. Messara found that “on any test, the thoroughbred racing industry in New Zealand today is in a state of serious malaise.” He...

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