Why does the TAB have a sports monopoly?

Nathan Guy has announced:

A working group has been appointed to shed some light on the growth of New Zealanders engaging in offshore online racing and sports betting, Racing Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

I suspect “shed light” means trying to ban.

“The is operated by the New Zealand Racing Board and has a national monopoly on all racing and sports betting.

Why?

Wouldn’t it be nice if National stood up for a belief in competition and choice and allowed any reputable provider who met accreditation standards to offer sports betting?

The Racing Board is required by law to distribute all profits from this betting back to the racing industry, which relies on these distributions to survive. National Sporting Organisations also receive a percentage of sports betting turnover,” says Mr Guy.

Again one could require all betting operators to give a percentage of betting turnover to respective sporting bodies, but allow competition.

“When New Zealanders place their sports and racing bets with overseas betting operators online, they operate outside of our regulatory framework. This means that offshore organisations make money on New Zealand racing and sports without paying their fair share of tax, or making contributions back to the racing industry or sporting organisations that make the betting possible in the first place.

“These New Zealanders are also operating outside the safety net of harm mitigation that we have here,” says Mr Guy.

This sounds very nanny state like. If New Zealanders are choosing to use overseas betting sites, then that shows the monopoly held by the TAB is not satisfying New Zealanders. The solution is to allow choice and competition within NZ.

The working group will commence this month and is due to report back with recommendations for the Minister later this year.

The group will chaired by former Minister, Chris Tremain. Other members are: New Zealand Racing Board Chief Executive, John Allen; the Chair of Sport New Zealand, Sir Paul Collins; breeder, racehorse owner and the NZRB’s Thoroughbred representative, Greg McCarthy; and two Internal Affairs officials.

Chris Tremain is a good guy, but a group dominated by the racing industry is going to look at what is best for the racing industry, not what is best for the public good.

There is no chance they’re going to say the way to reduce NZers using overseas betting sites, is to allow more choice within NZ. They will probably try to criminalise NZers using overseas sites, or even worse demand the Internet be censored to try and prevent access to them.

I hope I’m wrong, but I’m pessimistic about where this may go.

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