In a monumental turn of events in the global betting and gambling sector, UK-based Entain has acquired New Zealand’s only wagering agency, TAB. A binding agreement has been signed, marking a major milestone in the history of New Zealand’s horse racing and sports industries. With this deal, Entain takes over the reins of TAB’s management for the next 25 years, securing substantial financial benefits for New Zealand’s sports sector.
The endorsement of this acquisition by Kieran McAnulty, the Minister for Racing, on Tuesday, solidifies the agreement. The Minister marked the occasion by asserting, “This deal will reverse falling revenues for racing and provide certainty over the coming years.” He emphasized the critical role this agreement plays in ensuring the future stability of the racing industry and sports in New Zealand, which contribute $1.6 billion to the economy and create employment for 14,000 New Zealanders.
Job Security Amid Change
Despite the impending transition, the acquisition mandates that no new jobs will be lost. TAB’s 460 full-time employees have job security for at least the next two years, a key provision that had to be met before the Minister could sign off on the deal.
For fans of New Zealand racing, the coveted Punters Promise feature of TAB remains intact, ensuring a minimum win of $2000 for every horse racing enthusiast. The integration of the Punters Promise, which protects punters from restrictions or suspensions typically imposed by overseas bookmakers, reassures New Zealand bettors of a secure betting experience under Entain’s management.
A Bonus to Boost Local Sports
The agreement is a financial boon for New Zealand’s racing and sporting codes, with a $150 million bonus being divided among 38 National Sporting Organizations (NSOs). These organizations, which have contracts with TAB, will receive $15 million over the next three years based on the TAB’s turnover in overseas sports. This could potentially enhance the returns for New Zealand basketball, soccer, and rugby league, all of which enjoy high TAB turnover.
Further provisions of the deal direct funds towards social causes such as harm minimization and problem gambling assistance. A fraction of the bonus will be set aside for these causes, demonstrating an active commitment to social responsibility.
Guaranteeing a Sustainable Future for Racing Codes
The deal sets aside $100 million of the bonus for the future development of thoroughbred, harness, and greyhound racing in New Zealand, which have been grappling with rising costs and the need for large-scale infrastructure investment. This financial injection, in addition to Entain’s guaranteed distributions over the next five years, assures a sustainable future for these racing codes.
Despite the acquisition, the TAB brand, a name familiar to many New Zealanders, will continue to exist. This “strategic partnership” is essentially an outsourcing of the day-to-day running of the TAB business to Entain, which will commence on June 1st.
Entain’s global expertise will be crucial in navigating the challenges that TAB faces, particularly in preventing overseas wagering agencies from eroding its customer base. This strategic partnership is expected to increase overall betting traffic in New Zealand, while potentially expanding the promotion of New Zealand races in Australia and overseas markets.
An intriguing part of the agreement hints at a potential additional payment of roughly $100 million, should the New Zealand wagering market implement geo-blocking. This legislative change would curtail New Zealand bettors’ access to overseas agencies, potentially leading to a monopoly for TAB/Entain. While this change may be challenging to implement before the elections, Minister McAnulty suggests that it may be a forthcoming reality, stating, “Cabinet has decided an in-principle agreement to extend TAB NZ’s monopoly for sports and racing betting to the online environment, subject to further work being done.”
This groundbreaking deal not only establishes a promising financial outlook for New Zealand’s sports and racing industries, but also emphasizes the commitment to regulating online gambling, thus securing the future of local sports and racing.
In other news, just this week Entain’s alleged “underhand” lobbying tactics in the UK got exposed.
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