Prize money in Queensland is already something of a hot topic with both owners and trainers lobbying Racing Queensland for a bigger investment in winning payouts.
It’s been a request RQ says they simply cannot sustain and things could get even worse with betting revenue due to drop yet again.
Chief Executive of RQ Malcolm Tuttle says they were resigned to another drop in Tatt’s Bet contributions and adjustments would have to be made to the budget.
They are banking on an injection of $97.6 million for the 2010 / 2011 financial year, that’s a full million dollars less than what they took in during the corresponding 12 months.
It’s also nearly a full four million dollars less than what they enjoyed throughout 2008 / 2009.
Tuttle says that at the moment prize money was not under threat and the $4 million dollar shortfall would be picked up from race fields legislation.
Having said that he concedes that long term a solution needs to be found with more money coming in to prop up the industry.
Tuttle says the reason for the decline can be pinpointed to a significant increase in the numbers of people using fixed odds.
The TOTE brings in a much greater return as opposed to the fixed option and the numbers making the switch has jumped dramatically.
In 2004 / 2005 there was a total of $11.4 million put through the fixed price betting market.
Last year that jumped to as much as $168 million according to the Australian Racing Fact Book.
“It’s becoming very apparent the goose that layed the golden egg is no longer about the place,” Tuttle said.
“We went through a period of time in Queensland when we would go into a financial year forecasting two to 2½ per cent wagering increase and without extending our program too much we would see 3.5 per cent growth. Each per cent was worth about $1 million. Those days are long gone. It’s a tighter environment we live in now.
“We are flat lining in terms of revenue. If that decline can’t be arrested it gives rise to serious concerns.
“Very simply put, income is fixed and our costs continue to go up, which leads to issues. You can’t continue with the level of projects and funding programs we have in place.”
The figures show what RQ has been arguing for a while and this gives them even more reason to maintain that “significant prize money increases are not in the foreseeable future”.
Rather than prize money increases they are currently looking at ways to redistribute the cash for maximum effectiveness.
The idea on the table includes taking down the QTIS scheme in favour of a boost for midweek and provincial pay outs.
“Where the industry needs to be testing itself, both ourselves as the principal authority and the individual race clubs, who in many cases have very valuable land assets, is to start to explore revenue that otherwise doesn’t reside in the racing industry,” he said.
Tuttle also says he’ll be looking to the government to help them grow market share as best as possible.
Nothing major will change though until the renegotiation of the current racing license which expires on June 30th, 2014.
As it stands now the Tatt’s Bet agreement is for $132 million a year across all three racing codes.
“That figure not only needs to be preserved, but we need to explore a way with government that we can grow that into the future,” he said.
“Those negotiations need to commence fairly soon.”