The Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) today (Tuesday, 26 May) confirmed changes it was taking in response to the impact of COVID-19, including a reduction of 230 roles, including 150 permanent staff, across all areas of the TAB.
The decision follows consultation with staff on a range of proposed changes aimed at ensuring the business was sustainable for the future and best placed to meet the needs of New Zealand racing and sport. The changes, which impact 30 percent of all roles, are expected to deliver savings of more than $11million per annum in addition to further operational cost savings throughout the business.
RITA Executive Chair, Dean McKenzie said the decision was very difficult but the organisation was left with no alternative with TAB monthly revenue almost 50 percent below forecast and customer numbers down more than 35 percent.
“There are incredibly talented, experienced and committed people at the TAB who have delivered so much to our customers and the wider racing industry over many years. We will be very sorry to see them go.
“We have had to make some tough decisions as we focus on the essential parts of our business that generate the funding required to keep the racing industry and many National Sporting Organisations running.”
Services impacted by the changes include:
not resuming Trackside Radio programming following its suspension after the cancellation of all domestic racing in March
no longer offering the Phonebet betting service (Touchtone remains)
moving away from providing manual, oncourse, betting facilities and increasing the number of Self Service Terminals from the current level of 55% of all race meetings and increasing customer education of TAB’s online platforms
changes to Trackside production and presentation with a reduced number of cameras and presenters continuing to operate from the studio and not be on course, with the exception of supporting marquee events
Trackside television programmes will feature fewer presenters and with no dedicated racing shows, with the exception of a no-frills betting show, previewing the weekend’s racing
closure of four retail branches
An independent review of the structure of the Executive Leadership team is underway with consultation on any proposed changes expected to start next week.
“The implication of COVID-19 has extended beyond the immediate impact to the TAB, with racing and sport continuing to look unpredictable over the next year. The reality is these changes will help the TAB to be a leaner, more efficient business and focused on driving our core wagering and gaming offering to our customers,” said Dean McKenzie.
RITA was established in 2019 through the Racing Reform Act, and has a legislative mandate to enable the urgent changes required to revitalise the racing industry as well as to carry out business-as-usual functions, such as the TAB.