Gambling Restrictions to Hurt Greyhound Racing Industry

Gambling Restrictions to Hurt Greyhound Racing Industry
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The greyhound racing industry in New South Wales is urging members to lobby federal ministers against introducing a ban on online gambling advertising. They warn it would result in animal welfare programs closing, leading to dog suffering and essentially killing the sport in New South Wales.

Let’s explore the movement to ban advertising and some of the potential impacts on the greyhound racing industry in the state.

Movements to Ban Greyhound Racing

Back in 2017, there was a push by the state government to ban greyhound racing in NSW due to a raft of greyhound welfare concerns. At the time, then Premier Mike Baird overturned the decision three months after it passed. He promised to clean up the greyhound racing industry and improve safety and regulation.

In 2021, the NSW government provided financial support to the greyhound racing industry by investing $30 million into track safety upgrades. Critics said the investment saved expenses for the industry and helped increase their profits.

Today, the federal government is considering a multi-year plan to phase out online gambling. Several ministers are examining recommendations that call for a staged ban on gambling advertising, starting with a ban on online inducements, including rewards programs, early cashouts and multi-bets.

Greyhound Racing Industry

The NSW greyhound industry is currently thriving in NSW. Since the NSW government tried to ban the industry, prize money has almost doubled, with online gambling markets driving record income from people living in countries who have never even watched a race.

The industry attracts gamblers from overseas markets, including China and the US, where governments have banned greyhound racing. Many Sydney fixtures are featured on overseas betting sites.

NSW State Green member Abigail Boyd says, “In recent years, we have seen the NSW greyhound racing industry change race times to suit people betting in real-time overseas, regardless of the inconvenience caused to participants and race officials and the additional risks it adds from an animal welfare perspective.”

Since the push to ban greyhound racing was overturned, Greyhound Racing NSW’s overall income increased from $67 million to $121.5 million. Described by CEO Mr Macaulay as its best financial performance on record, prize money in the sport also rose from $26.4 million to $46.3 million.

Mr Macaulay says that the sport’s success in New South Wales is filtering through as an economic benefit to many regional and rural communities in New South Wales. He noted that 75% of participants lived in regional areas of NSW.

Suspected Impacts

Greyhound Racing NSW CEO Robert Macaulay said the plan would cause a 40% reduction in income, equating to a $20 million annual hit to the industry. In a letter to members, he wrote that the loss of all forms of racing in the state would significantly impact the maintenance of essential welfare and adoption programs for many dogs.

However many critics focus on the cruelty associated with the racing industry when lobbying governments. Last year in NSW, the number of dogs killed or injured surged, with last winter reportedly the worst on record since 2018. There were 939 injuries across all categories, equating to 21% of the dogs that raced over a three-month period.

Kylie Field, spokesperson for the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds, said the claim that greyhound dogs would suffer more if gambling advertising were banned was absurd. And that the only way to improve animal welfare is to ban greyhound racing.

Many companies involved in sports betting in Australia, including SportsBet, are campaigning against the changes. Just this year SportsBet have boosted its marketing spend by $19m in anticipation of the planned changes.

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