More NZ sporting bodies express concerns over TAB changes

This article has been amended to more accurately reflect the Messara Report's recommendations with respect to the TAB's betting operations.

New Zealand sporting bodies are adding their voice to concerns they're being frozen out of talks that could have a major impact on their future.

A recommendation to take the TAB's betting operations offshore has sparked fears their revenue streams could be at risk and Kiwi sports are demanding answers from the government.

Basketball New Zealand's hopes of finding the next Steven Adams rely on the money they receive from the TAB.  Last year's $1.9 million payout represented a third of their total annual revenue.

"I'm not confident that there's an understanding of just how important betting revenue is for the sporting community," said Basketball NZ CEO Ian Potter.

But sports weren't consulted in a report into thoroughbred racing released last week, which recommended the outsourcing of TAB operations.

That's despite sports betting representing more than a quarter of their turnover - a growth of 10 percent over the past five years.

"The TAB isn't just about the racing industry anymore, it's central to our business," said Potter. "It's central to the sporting community."

There's fear that a move of betting operations offshore could mean all bets are off.

"We want to be reassured it's not at risk, because it is essential to everything we do," said Potter.

"What we're concerned about is how those decisions are made and what future decisions are made. If you're not in the conversation, you can't influence the future."

The national bodies for cricket, baseball and rugby have now offered their support to that argument, saying the value of sport must be reflected in the wagering market.

"We have started reviewing the report and at first read, the majority of recommendations focus on the facing industry," says NZ Rugby chief commercial officer Nick Brown.

"We will, of course, expect to engage in a consultation process around the recommendations, including the possible sale of the TAB's commercial activities, to ensure all future recognition of sport's contribution to the sector is fair and appropriate."

Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson told Newshub that no decisions had been made about the future of the TAB and that the government would be looking closely at the impact the proposal would have across the board.

"It's essential to everything we do," said Potter. "We would have to fold up camp considerably if we didn't have that revenue," 

That means the revenue sporting organisations make from bets placed on their sport at the TAB could be lost if it's outsourced offshore.