This Saturday, 1 August 2020, the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) will become TAB New Zealand (TAB NZ).
The change marks a significant milestone in the history of the TAB and the racing industry. It also brings to an end a 13-month period of transitioning, as RITA, from the New Zealand Racing Board.
The creation of TAB NZ is part of the final steps in a transformation that started back in April 2018 when John Messara was appointed by the Minister for Racing Rt Hon Winston Peters to undertake his review of the New Zealand racing industry.
As you know, the changes are taking place as a result of the Racing Industry Act 2020 coming into force. This new Act requires the TAB to have a sole focus on our customers and to maximise its profits for the racing industry and returns for sports, while at the same time ensuring the risks of problem and underage gambling are managed. For the Codes, they now have the power to move forward in a way that hadn’t been previously possible by having responsibility for the promotion and development of their sports.
Fortunately, with industry funding retained at budgeted 2019/20 levels, the inaugural racing calendar, under the new industry framework, has been given the best possible chance of resuming strongly, despite the significant impact of COVID-19. This has been achieved by taking approximately $20 million of costs out of the TAB, new income from the passing of the Racing Industry Act (betting levy and information use charges) and thanks to the critical industry support package from the Government.
As we prepare for the move to TAB New Zealand, the Board has also been focused on ensuring that the executive leadership for the ‘future TAB’ is fit for purpose and has the right capabilities necessary to ensure the organisation’s success and sustainability.
As a result, we have made some changes to the structure of the leadership team, while also reducing the number of roles which will report into the Chief Executive. We’ve landed on a structure that we believe will be best placed to take us through the next phase of the organisation with four General Managers covering Customer and Betting, Broadcasting and Operations, Corporate and Governance Services, and Finance. An internal process is currently underway to fill these roles, and if we are unable to fill them within the TAB then we’ll advertise them externally.
The intent is to implement the structure on 1 September.
As you know, the current Board continues until after the election when the Minister for Racing in the new Government will determine how they wish to proceed with appointing a new Chair and Board. Naturally, this will need to be progressed before finalising the appointment of a CE. We remain hopeful we will have the right person on board by the end of the year, as we have indicated internally, but this will also be potentially subject to other variables, such as the status of travel into the country. We’ll update everyone when we know more.
As we transition to TAB New Zealand we do so knowing that, despite the enormous challenges presented by COVID, RITA has delivered on the Racing Minister’s expectations which were set out last year. The Board is grateful for his ongoing commitment and support, as well as from those across Government and Parliament who have supported the charge to reform the industry over the past two years.
The industry has also responded well to the challenges posed by COVID, resuming with competitive racing, strong fields and providing great content for our customers to bet on. All participants should be congratulated for their effort and commitment.
While it’s early days yet and there’s still considerable, ongoing uncertainty overseas, we can look forward to a newly reformed industry next week, cautiously optimistic of the year ahead.