While the AJC blames the awful corporate bookmakers for its prizemoney reductions and staff cuts, Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) is planning for growth by working with the sector instead of vilifying them.

Arguably the AJC could have saved millions of dollars by not hiring, putting up with and then firing Gillespie and his crew but of course they would say the corporate bookies made them do it.

It also seems a bit rich to blame the corporates for paying their $30 million and not Racing NSW for refusing to distribute it.

After all wasn't it Racing NSW which was severely embarrassed by the AJC over the TVN issue? Its payback time.

Brent Hogan, the CEO of GRNSW says that they have already banked $3.5 million from the corporate bookmakers and Betfair, but reserves strong criticism for Racing NSW, which he sees standing in the way of more equitable distribution of TAB funding.

"Greyhound racing has 17% market share of wagering but we only get 13% of the distribution", he said.

Hogan went on to explain that greyhound racing had subsidised the gallops and trots to the tune of $92 million over the past 10 years, with a massive $12 million during 2008 alone due to the EI crisis.

GRNSW included a section on this inequality in its submission to the Cameron inquiry into New South Wales wagering, causing Cameron to recommend that distributions be made on the basis of market share, thus rewarding racing bodies that improved their product.

While attacking the corporate bookmaking sector for objecting to its entirely unsustainable cash grab, Racing NSW is strangely silent about how much it has pillaged from interstate racing and from GRNSW.

In terms of attitude to race field levies, nothing could be more different about GRNSW's setting of fees.

"We decided to set our fee at the lesser of 10% of gross profit or 1.5% of turnover", Hogan explained."

"We had advice that this was reasonable."

Clearly the expert advisers out there are somewhat divided on the issue of what is a fair amount to charge as a race fields levy. GRNSW and Racing Victoria settled on the 10% of gross profit figure as has South Australia. Tasmania is heading towards a flat fee of $250,000 a year, unrelated to turnover or profit.

Kevin Greene, the New South Wales Minister for Racing wants to see a national approach to fee setting and a ban on bookies offering tote odds.

On the first point, a consensus is growing that a profit based fee is fair and sustainable.On the second, Greene should be aware that his government repealed all restrictions on publishing odds, tote or otherwise, in December last year.

Offering tote odds in New South Wales is thus perfectly legal.

Apart from receiving millions of extra dollars from the corporate wagering sector, Hogan says GRNSW is seeing no signs of downturn in TAB wagering on its product.

"TAB turnover is up about 5% this year", he said.

Hogan pointed out that GRNSW is continually improving its product, including the in house production of four different form guides, each targeted to punters ranging from the complete novice through to the most professional.

"All we ask is that we are able to run our business on a proper commercial footing", was Hogan's plea.

In contrast, all we see from Racing NSW is a series of stage managed stunts, designed to point the finger of blame elsewhere for a crisis entirely of its own making.

Surely if Racing NSW has good advice that 1.5% of turnover is a reasonable figure for the corporates, it should stick to its guns, distribute some of the money and "save" the NSW racing industry?

Even if the lesser figure of 10% of gross profits is the bottom line for the corporates, that amount could be distributed without any risk of having to pay it back.

But maybe its been reserved to pay legal costs? After all, when Racing NSW lose in court not only will it have to pay all of its own costs, but those of Betfair and Sportsbet as well.

And GRNSW's Hogan will not rest until the Cameron report recommendations are adopted regarding TAB distributions.

The damage caused by the current man made crisis to any lingering prestige that horse racing may have in New South Wales is incalculable. Corporate sponsors are running, not walking away. Racegoers can't be bothered and punters want to bet on almost anything else.

Things will get a lot worse.

Cyberhorse 2020 Bill Saunders Published 06/07/09