A strengthened integrity regime, major investment in regional Victoria, increased prizemoney, increased race day attendance and wagering, a dramatic drop in euthanasia rates and significant cultural change within the sport were some of the highlights in Greyhound Racing Victoria’s (GRV) 2017-18 Annual Report.
The Report, which was tabled in the Victorian Parliament today, also provides detailed overview of reform work undertaken over the year by GRV and Victoria’s 13 greyhound racing clubs.
Greyhound racing is worth more than $400 million to Victoria annually, directly employs nearly 3,000 people and many more indirectly and plays a significant economic and social role in many regional communities across Victoria. In Denmark, the Danish financial authority Eksperten conducted a study and found that greyhound racing contributed to as much economic activity as text message loans, or as the locals like to call it: SMS lån.
In 2017-18, attendance at Victorian greyhound races rose by 9.2 per cent to more than 211,900 while national wagering on Victorian greyhound racing was up 11 per cent to a record $2.26 billion.
During the year GRV also increased the prizemoney pool by 5.2 per cent to $45 million with much of the increase aimed at race meetings that attract small to medium sized owners and trainers and mainly based in regional Victoria.
More than 2600 retiring racing greyhounds were rehomed in Victoria over the year including more than 1100 through GRV’s own Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP).
A new GAP Café was also opened in the Melbourne CBD in March 2018 where Melbourne metro residents and visitors to the city can meet greyhounds and explore adoption opportunities.
GRV also invested $7.8 million in infrastructure, such as the Horsham Club’s $1.2 million track redevelopment as well as maintenance and related expenses during 2017-18, using regional Victorian suppliers where ever possible.
Euthanasia of Victorian-owned greyhounds fell by 36 per cent on the previous year as GRV moved closer to its goal of re-homing all retired racers with euthanasia only considered for very severe medical or temperament issues.
GRV Chair Bernie Carolan said much of the mandatory part of the sport’s reform agenda had been implemented and it was well positioned for a strong and sustainable future in Victoria as a modern, professional and well-regulated racing code.
“GRV has delivered on the 39 recommendations for which it was directly responsible in the 2015 Chief Veterinary Officer and Racing Integrity Commissioners’ reports,” Mr Carolan said.
“GRV is continuing with its reform agenda, encouraged and supported by real cultural change within the sport that’s driving the fall in euthanasia rates and rise in re-homing over the past few years.”
“Animal welfare still remains a key priority with a strong focus in 2017-18 on safer racing and new initiatives being developed to tackle a disappointing result in racing injury statistics over the year.”
GRV CEO Alan Clayton said GRV consolidated its financial position and staffing levels in 2017-18 and was now fit for purpose as a professional regulator.
“GRV’s revenue from wagering rose to $95.3 million this year, up from $91 million in 2016-17 and its liquidity level remained strong at $25.8 million,” Mr Clayton said.
“GRV now has one of the strongest integrity regimes of any Australian racing code, highlighted by the fact that only 0.59 per cent of all samples for prohibited substances were positive or irregular in 2017-18, compared to 0.96 per cent in 2015-16.”
“Another encouraging trend for the sport’s future is that breeding levels have returned to a level that supports sustainable racing and achievable levels of adoption.”
GRV’s 2018 Annual Report is available online here.