The impact on national sporting organisations should TAB operations be outsourced to an off-shore operator may not be as grim as initially feared.
A recommendation in the independent review into New Zealand's racing industry, conducted by Australian racing guru John Messara, suggested shipping TAB operations off-shore would be one way in which to help the industry out of its current decline.
Fears rose over the move and the potential impact it would have on funding that national sporting organisations (NSOs) get from the TAB reinvesting funds from Kiwi punters. However, the report makes no reference to the current agreement that sees 34 codes receive funding each year, and Basketball New Zealand chief executive Iain Potter said his impression was that would not change.
"The report says it would be business as usual," Potter said. "I'll really just take that at face value."
New Zealand Football reiterated Potter's belief that should Messara's recommendation be carried out it would not impact their annual funding from the TAB and declined to provide comment when contacted by the Herald. Sport New Zealand was still processing the review and also declined to comment.
The Messara Report made 17 significant and specific recommendations on where the racing industry could begin to improve their operations, including the outsourcing of the TAB. Under Messara's recommendation, the NZRB would remain the TAB licence-holder, but would contract "all operational activities to a third-party wagering and media operator of international scale."
New Zealand rugby league chief executive Greg Peters said that TAB funding was vital for the sport in New Zealand and the organisation would be paying close attention to what decisions are made in reference to the Messara Report.
"We're adopting a watching brief on outcomes of the TAB review and once we know these, we can assess from there."
In the past five years, the TAB has pumped more than $32.2 million into the country's basketball, football, tennis, cricket, rugby and league operations alone.
In the New Zealand Racing Board's last financial year - from August 1, 2017 to July 31 this year - the TAB supported 34 of New Zealand's national sporting organisations to the tune of around $10 million. Basketball was the biggest benefactor, receiving $2 million in funding, while rugby, league, football and tennis all received $1 million or more. Cricket also saw a healthy sum of $700,000, with more than $2 million shared between other codes.
While there seemed to be little fear over losing the vital funding they received from the TAB, Potter said Messara's report was very much focused on the three racing codes and, without a sporting representative on the New Zealand Racing Board, the best interests of the sporting industry may be overlooked.
The NZRB is made up of six people, including three independent members as well as nominees from the greyhound, thoroughbred and harness racing codes. Potter suggested adding a sporting representative was essential.
"We need to be at the table to make sure that we're part of any of the conversations that go on. I'm not saying we as in Basketball New Zealand, I'm saying we as in a representative of the sporting sector," Potter said.
"It neglects a fundamental sector … At the moment we're like an appendage; an unrepresented appendage.
"It seems to be that if there's going to be changes we should look to have the sporting community get a seat at the table. Sports betting is a hugely significant to the sporting community, and to keep pretending that the TAB is only about the racing industry is a mistake, in my opinion."
Commissions paid by the TAB in the last financial year:
Basketball - $2 million
Rugby - $1.4 million
Football - $1.3 million
Tennis - $1.2 million
League - $1 million
Cricket - $700,000
Other - $2.5 million (shared between 28 NSOs)