Proposed changes to Racing Industry Bill

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Winston Peters

New Zealand’s Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee has put forward a number of proposed changes to the country’s new Racing Industry Bill, with the legislation now expected to pass into law a month later than originally planned.

Filed in December 2019, the bill is the second part in a two-step process that saw the Racing Reform Act implemented from 1 July 2019. It had been due to come into effect from 1 July of this year, but progress stalled as lawmakers focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) said it was confident the bill could still be implemented from 1 August.

RITA, which is expected to be replaced by a new entity, Racing NZ, has updated stakeholders on proposed changes to the bill, with the committee highlighting over 30 areas for amendments. “Our initial view of the Select Committee’s recommendations is that the overall direction and structure of the Bill remains the same as it was before the Committee and is still in line with the direction of the Messara Report,” RITA executive chair Dean McKenzie said. “The TAB will be established as a pure betting, broadcasting and gaming entity, and the Codes will have greater roles and responsibilities for developing and promoting their sport.”

The key aspects of change the Select Committee has recommended includes:

  • The establishment of Racing NZ as soon as the Bill becomes law. This is a formal consultative forum comprising the three Codes. It could carry out some of the functions of the Codes (if the Codes wish).
  • Changes to the venue provisions of the Bill. The changes require the Minister for Racing to have greater consideration of the community before deciding whether to vest a Club’s assets with the Code.
  • Changes to the composition of the TAB NZ Board. The TAB is proposed to have three out of seven members appointed on recommendation of the Codes. A Selection Panel is proposed and the overall required skillset of the Board remains generally in line with what was in the Bill previously.
  • Intellectual Property. The clause that gave TAB NZ exclusive use of racing industry intellectual property is proposed to be removed. This clause was viewed by almost all submitters as being too broad and encompassing, when the intention was for the clause to apply to negotiations with offshore bookmakers.
  • Betting Information Use Charges (Racefields). There are some changes to this aspect of the legislation which make it easier for the industry to require offshore bookmakers to pay for their use of New Zealand product.

The next stage of the process is that the Minister for Racing could also introduce any changes he wants to see included as part of the Second Reading. The Parliament then agrees to or rejects the amendments recommended by the Select Committee and the Minister. If all goes to plan, the Bill could come into effect by 1 August.

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