RITA’s Directors Terms Extended, Racing Industry Important for New Zealand

The Minister For Racing in New Zealand, Winston Peters, extended the terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA), which according to the filed in December 2019 Racing Industry Bill was due to dissolve from July 1 as the latter is supposed to come into effect. The act by the Minister is a clear sign of recognition for the racing industry and its role in the economy of the country.

“The racing industry is seriously underestimated for its important contribution to our regions and our economy, and getting the reforms right is pivotal to the economic recovery of all of New Zealand.”

Winston Peters, Minister For Racing, New Zealand

Due to the concerns regarding the ongoing health crisis and the implementation of the virus spread containment measures, legislative action regarding the second part of the Racing Reform Act, a two-step legislative process that began July 1, 2019, stalled. This set the requirement for the agency that was forced mid-May to change New Zealand’s racing calendar, to remain in force for a period longer than the initially anticipated one.

Industry Knowledge and Experience

Under the new terms, RITA’s directors, Dean McKenzie, Bill Birnie, Liz Dawson, Kristy McDonald, Anna Stove and Sir Peter Vela, all of who have extensive industry knowledge and experience will be able to continue to further develop and strengthen governance in the sector throughout June 2021, or until the Racing Industry Bill is enacted, whichever comes first.

“It is crucial that the directors continue to offer their extensive expertise and experience during this extended transition period to help make the racing industry both more prosperous and sustainable.”

Winston Peters, Minister For Racing, New Zealand

The Racing Industry Bill stipulates that the sole racing and sports betting provider is TAB NZ, with a Racing Integrity Board introduced to oversee that competitions remain free from corruption.

During the second stage of the two-step process, a point of consumption tax for offshore operators was implemented, as well as an overhaul of the race fee structure, to ensure horse and greyhound racing in New Zealand remained sustainable and profitable in the long run. As part of that process, RITA was created, to replace the previous governing body, the New Zealand Racing Board.

Despite the resumption of harness and greyhound races in May, with thoroughbred scheduled to resume July 3, sports betting in the sector plummeted, with monthly revenue in May down almost 50% from the original forecast, and the number of customers falling with 35%.

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