Law change boosts funds for race club

Thoroughbred Park will receive an annual $250,000 boost after the ACT Legislative Assembly changed the laws on how the industry collects its revenue.

Canberra Racing chief executive Peter Stubbs expected the club's earnings from gambling revenue could increase from $1.3 million a year by between $200,000-$250,000 - up by almost 20 per cent.

Legislation was passed allowing the ACT racing industry, which includes the Canberra harness and greyhound clubs as well as Thoroughbred Park, to directly set and collect fees from betting agencies from March 1.

In the past, the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission undertook that job on behalf of the ACT Government. The changes mean the ACT can now follow NSW's lead in switching from a profit-based revenue system to one calculated using total betting turnover.

All betting agencies must pay a fee for using race fields, which are ''owned'' by the racing industry. Currently in the ACT, the industry gets 10 per cent of all profits, but from the start of next month it will collect 1.5 per cent of the total amount wagered.

Stubbs said it would allow Thoroughbred Park to increase prizemoney, but with 200 races a year, it would be only a slight change.


Canberra Racing is considered a ''provincial'' club - a step down from city courses such as Warwick Farm and Rosehill, but a step up from ''country''-rated tracks such as Queanbeyan and Wagga Wagga.

But increases in NSW last year mean Thoroughbred Park's prizemoney is almost on par with what's offered in country NSW.

Stubbs said an additional $1.4 million would be needed to allow the Canberra club to boost its prizemoney from $15,000 a race back to provincial status.

''That additional money will be a major factor towards some increase in prizemoney, to what extent I'm not sure yet,'' he told The Canberra Times on Thursday.

''But we run 200 races per annum, so to put $1000 on a race we require an additional $200,000 so we wouldn't expect that we'd get to provincial level, which is currently $22,000 [a race] … so we're not likely to be matching NSW provincial prizemoney, but hopefully there's another thousand or so we can add to prizemoney next year.''

ACT Minister for Gaming and Racing Joy Burch said the changes had been on the government's agenda since the NSW racing industry won a High Court battle with betting agencies Sportsbet and Betfair last March.

The agencies unsuccessfully tried to prevent NSW from switching from a profit-based model to a revenue-based one.

''Following the High Court decision in NSW … in discussions with our local industry here it became apparent they had an eye to do that [switch from a profit model to turnover model],'' Burch said. ''We just thought it made more sense to put that decision-making within the industry itself.''

The racing industry could have set a percentage greater than 1.5, but Stubbs said anything higher could have scared betting agencies off.