Dogs in for fight
Friday, 9th May, 2014
By Ethan James
The viability of rural clubs is of high concern, according to an inquiry into the New South Wales greyhound racing industry.
The 184-page report, commissioned by Greyhound Racing NSW, was released in late-March and considered over 1000 public submissions as well as contributions from stakeholders.
The report acknowledged lower revenue streams, loss of races and events not holding TAB status were the major issues facing country meets.
Greyhound Racing Broken Hill President Regan Edgecombe said the organisation was facing a number of financial challenges but was managing to “keep its head above water”.
“Our main three challenges are increasing water and electricity prices and also attendances and getting people through the gate,” he said.
Broken Hill greyhound races are classified as a ‘D Grade’ and do not have TAB status.
This means that the club misses out on a substantial amount of funding compared to metropolitan meets which are supported by TAB.
The club runs on funding from GRNSW as well as money made via gate takings and canteen purchases.
Edgecombe has been involved with the sport for four years and says that the amount of assistance received from GRNSW has decreased over time.
“It only takes Greyhound Racing NSW to say ‘we’re cutting ‘X’ amount of dollars from your funding’ and we’d have to race less and things would go down from there,” he said.
“It has actually stabilised a bit this year but it’s getting harder.
“With less funding we’re racing for less money ... and like a lot of other sports we are struggling.”
The report also found that the sport is becoming unsustainable for trainers.
“The economic viability of racing greyhounds is in decline for the average owner or trainer,” Robert Borsak, Chair of the Select Committee on Greyhound Racing in NSW, said.
The report stated that financial returns to trainers and owners were not enough to cover their costs.
As a result dogs are being lost to Victoria and elsewhere, making existing clubs and tracks unviable.
“We have about 14-16 trainers in town with up to 20 dogs each,” Edgecombe said.
“Some of them with better classes of dog take them away if it’s worthwhile ... but a lot are professional or lifetime trainers who have been involved a long time.
“We’re not getting too many, if any, new trainers.
“Why would you get involved for less return or if you were struggling to break even?”
Mr Borsak said that GRNSW needed to improve prize money arrangements.
“Part of the sport’s difficulties derive from revenue agreements which do not reward performance or innovation by racing codes in this state,” he said.
Edgecombe said that BHGR was working to get more people through the gates.
He said that a typical attendance was 30-40 people on a Saturday, with 70-80 at more marquee meets.
“We are looking at promoting it more as a family orientated day, more advertising and getting our name out more in town,” he said.
“We tried free entry last year but it wasn’t overly successful.”
A meet was held last week which raised $500 for improving the lives of those with Cystic Fibrosis.
Despite the financial challenges, Edgecombe says the organisation has managed to turn a profit so far this year.
The report made a total of 18 recommendations in regards to the operational model of GRNSW, animal welfare and industry standards.
A financial model and recommendations will be made in a second report, to be tabled June 30.