The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all levels within the community. The Federal Government have described the pandemic as both a public health and economic crisis and whilst racing throughout Australia is continuing on the basis of sound animal welfare and employment reasons unfortunately our business like so many, has been negatively impacted by the virus.
In light of the national and international public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent impact on Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s (RWWA’s) income, the decision has been made to reduce overall expenditures to sustain and boost the WA racing industry over the longer term.
RWWA’s Board has adopted the principle of equitable sharing of expenditure reductions across all aspects of its own operations and distributions to the three racing codes. RWWA has implemented business continuity plans and is finalising changes to its internal operations to significantly reduce ongoing operating expenditures to assist in mitigating the impact of declining income.
In addition to reductions in its own cost base, RWWA will also be reducing prizemoney and associated bonuses by 20% effective from Monday 6 April.
RWWA CEO Richard Burt said the necessary social distancing and containment restrictions caused by the COVID-19 virus had impacted significantly on its income through the WATAB. “National and international sports and international racing has all but shut down in addition to the recent complete closure of our 330 outlet retail network which accounts for around 50% of the WATAB business,” Mr Burt said.
Prizemoney and bonuses across all three codes of racing will be reduced by 20%, with the exception of some races where current stakes levels must be retained to allow the premium rate to continue to be applied to wagering operators under the Racing Bets Levy Act 2009.
Under the Act, a premium rate is applied to wagering operators where there is one $100,000 race scheduled at thoroughbred race meetings, and one $30,000 race at harness and greyhound meetings. Therefore, to continue to maximise industry revenues through this levy, stakes will not be reduced on races to maintain the minimum threshold required.
The WA racing industry is funded from the profits of the RWWA-operated WA TAB, together with all proceeds from the Racing Bets Levy and part proceeds of the Point of Consumption Tax paid by all wagering operators to the WA Government.
“These changes to stakes together with RWWA’s reserves and other operational savings are being held for use in supporting the racing industry over the coming months. RWWA is actively supporting the continuance of racing at 80% of historical stakes levels even though its income has been impacted by at least 50%,” Mr Burt said.
“RWWA anticipates supporting key elements of the racing industry to ensure it survives the crises both during the period it continues racing and if the industry were required to shut down. Under a complete shutdown, RWWA will effectively have no income but will be able to provide some relief to industry through the use of this fund.”
“We recognise how difficult the situation is for our racing participants and this decision has been made to mitigate some of the impacts from the evolving situation and high level of uncertainty of COVID-19, to ensure the long-term survival of the State’s racing industry.”
“These are unprecedented times and we thank the industry for their ongoing support and cooperation and it is these necessary measures that will assist us in getting through these challenging times as an industry together.”
Media Contact:
Lauren Prater RWWA, Public Relations Manager
T: 08 9445 5168 / M: 0488 904 723