Back in 2017, the greyhound racing industry in NSW was on the verge of a ban. Fast forward five years, and now the industry is enjoying record profits. Some argue it is only profitable because the government and gambling companies are propping up the industry. However, it appears online gambling is the real reason for the industry’s success.
Greyhound Racing Prize Money Almost Doubles in Five Years
Greyhound racing in NSW almost faced a ban in 2017. Since that time, the industry has seen prize pools roughly double. As a result, the industry is now enjoying record profitability. According to the 2022 Annual Report from Greyhound Racing NSW, participants received $46.30 million in prize money and returns. This is up from $38.49 million in 2021. In 2017, $26.18 million in prize money went to participants.
The report also noted a record 2,014 greyhounds retired as pets. That is a 7% increase from the previous year. Also, catastrophic injuries were down an additional 28.6% year-over-year. This was an all-time low. To put it in perspective, in 2017, catastrophic injuries occurred to approximately 1.6 dogs out of every 1,000 raced. Now, that number is down to 0.5. That’s a 68.75% decrease.
The industry saw total profits of $23.56 million for the year, up from $23.03 million in 2021. Looking at the numbers a bit closer, Race Fields Information Use fees increased 32.4% year-over-year to $16.8 million. Sponsorship and rights fees also increased from $7.4 to $9.4 million. The industry did not receive sponsorship or rights fees in 2017.
Profitability Driven by Online Gambling
Greyhound Racing NSW is praising the success of the industry. CEO Robert Macaulay states, “The sport of greyhound racing is thriving in NSW and this has filtered through as an economic benefit to the regional and rural communities of NSW.” Approximately 75% of those participating in betting do so outside major metropolitan areas.
One of the main reasons the industry is thriving is because of online gambling. Many online casinos offer a race book that provides access to greyhound racing. Punters can bet on their favourite races while playing pokies, blackjack, or other casino games. They can usually watch the races virtually.
However, some argue the industry is being unnaturally propped up by online betting. The Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds spoke recently, shooting down claims the sport was a community affair. They said, “The reality is that greyhound racing would not exist without the massive amounts of money wagered by punters online who will never attend a race. Given the dramatic reduction in racetrack attendance, there is virtually no money made through community engagement.”
Is Government Regulation Lining the Industry’s Pockets?
In July 2017, the greyhound racing industry was slated to be outlawed. However, that decision was overturned when Premier Mike Baird promised to work on cleaning up the industry. While a lot has been done to improve the greyhound racing, some feel government intervention is one reason the industry is enjoying record profits.
The government spent $30 million in 2021 that went toward improving track safety. Some argue that this money should have come from the industry directly and was an indirect subsidy by the government. Also, starting in 2021, funding for the Greyhounds Welfare Integrity Commission (GWIC) switched to the government. A 10% POC tax on online wagers now funds the regulator. Before that, Greyhound Racing NSW directly funded the regulator. Also, the share the industry gets from the tax increased.
According to the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds, the industry is being funded by the state government and the gambling industry. “Without these two revenue streams, the industry would be unviable.”