By Sophie Boot
The government is seeking public submissions on changes to the Racing Act which could see it impose fees on foreign gambling operators accepting bets from New Zealand, as well as expanding its own product range to compete better with online platforms.
Racing Minister Nathan Guy wants submissions on a series of proposals generated from a report by the Offshore Racing & Sports Betting working group for the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB), which was publicly released in November. Submissions close on May 27.
The working group estimated $58 million of gross betting profit was lost offshore in 2015 with the number of New Zealanders betting online with the TAB's foreign competitors doubling since 2010 to 40,000.
The TAB has fought back with the launch of a mobile app, which has become its fastest growing channel, but the report said the betting agency needs to do more to compete, including the introduction of better technology.
The five proposals include two which target those online competitors - a consumption fee for offshore gambling operators accepting bets from New Zealand based on turnover, and a 'use of data' fee for offshore gambling operators who use New Zealand racing and sports information.
That consumption fee could generate $10 million in revenue if applied at a rate of 2 per cent on $518 million, which is the estimated turnover for offshore betting on New Zealand racing and sport in 2015.
The proposals also include ending the current prohibition on in-race betting, making the rules consistent with current live betting rules on sporting events; allowing bets on sports that don't have a national body such as mixed martial arts; and permitting gambling on novelty events, "such as the outcomes of reality TV shows or the sex of the royal baby."
NZRB posted a profit of $144 million for the year ended July 31 2015, up 5.1 per cent from a year earlier.