NZ racing to boost wagering audience through Sportsbet deal

15 August 2019

The New Zealand Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA), the body established to oversee the development of a new governance structure for the country's horseracing industry, has struck a deal that will see Sportsbet launch live streaming of races in Australia.

Through the agreement Flutter Entertainment-owned Sportsbet will feature live streams of thoroughbred and harness racing, as well as greyhound racing events, on its Australian site. Tabcorp, the long-term broadcast and wagering partner of the New Zealand TAB, will act as intermediary, facilitating delivery of the content.

“The new deal involves Sportsbet taking live vision of all three codes of New Zealand racing, getting our racing in front of a big new audience in the Australian market that we’ve never been in, while bringing in a new revenue source for the industry,” TAB general manager for media and international Andy Kydd explained.

“Sportsbet is the largest corporate bookmaker in Australia by a stretch and the second biggest operator in the market behind Tabcorp," Kydd continued. "We are very grateful to Tabcorp for delivering the vision to Sportsbet, their biggest competitor in Australia.”

The agreement follows a deal between RIITA and another Flutter-owned brand, Betfair, announced earlier this year. This saw Betfair agree to pay product fees to the TAB in return for offering odds on New Zealand racing. Similar agreements, as part of a wider drive to revitalise the country's racing industry, are being negotiated with other Australian operators. 

Announced in April this year, the New Zealand government aims to halt the industry's decline, with the existing horseracing levy to be phased out over the next three years. In 2018, the levy generated, NZ$13.9m (£7.4m/€8.0m/US$8.9m), representing 4% of overall betting profit in the country, with these funds to be reinvested in racing and sport going forward.

This also saw the New Zealand Racing Board replaced with the RITA, to manage the transition to a new governance structure. While the government's plans specifically ruled out implementing a licensing model for betting operators, it will look to impose a point of consumption tax on offshore operators taking bets in the market. 

This may be complemented by an expansion of legal products - and potentially a licensing system for certain verticals - after a public consultation to gauge public support for regulating new forms of online gambling was launched earlier this month. With technology developing rapidly, and gambling legislation unchanged since 2003, the government aims to ensure customers are protected from the negative effects of gambling. 

At present, only Lotto NZ and the TAB are permitted to offer gambling products online, though the government acknowledged that an increasing number of New Zealanders were gambling via offshore providers, especially in minority communities.