28 Mar 2023

TAB to come under control of British betting giant Entain

8:19 am on 28 March 2023
Force of Will (R ridden by Craig Grylls wins the  New Zealand Blood Stock Desert Gold Stakes race during the Wellington Cup horse racing at Trentham Racecourse in Wellington on 31 January 2021.

File photo. Wellington Cup racing at Trentham Racecourse. Photo: Photosport

The state-owned betting agency, TAB, is set to come under the control of a British betting giant in a billion dollar deal aimed at revitalising the organisation and racing.

Subject to government approval, British firm Entain, which operates the well known Ladbrokes chain, will take operational control of the TAB for 25 years after a 2018 review recommended the need for a strategic partnership to guarantee the agency's future.

TAB chief executive officer Mike Tod said the deal would boost the fortunes of racing, sport and communities.

"TAB NZ faced an uncertain future in a David and Goliath battle with international wagering operators and a lack of capital to both compete and meet its potential.

"In the absence of a strategic partnering arrangement, TAB NZ would be further cutting distributions in the next financial year... This proposed strategic arrangement with Entain provides a certain, material and immediate uplift in the funding TAB NZ can provide New Zealand racing and sports ensuring that these industries not only survive, but thrive.

"It will allow us to greatly improve our harm minimisation and responsible gambling efforts, and provides immediate job security and long-term job creation in New Zealand to the advancement of our nation at large.

Billion dollar boost

Under the terms of the deal Entain would invest $1 billion over the next five years in the TAB, provide $10m sponsorship for racing carnivals, refresh the TAB brand, systems and facilities, and guarantee the jobs of all staff for the next two years.

Entain's Australian chief executive Dean Shannon said the agreement would improve the betting experience for New Zealand and support racing and sporting industries.

"We have a compelling vision for the future of TAB NZ, which includes a renewed focus on innovation and technology, and a long-term commitment to all racing, sport and industry stakeholders."

"As the partner of choice for New Zealand, we have made a firm commitment to employment continuity for at least 24 months, with the team at TAB NZ essential to our future vision and growth of the market in New Zealand."

Entain beat out Australian firms Tabcorp and Sportsbet.

Racing Minister Kieran McAnulty said he wanted to make sure that racing was guaranteed for the future and he would take time before signing off the deal.

"I want to have a look and make sure that it meets the statutory obligations that the TAB has to meet ... the TAB has a monopoly in Nw Zealand and I want o make sure that is retained," he told 1News.

"I gave a pretty clear steer to the TAB that I wouldn't be signing off on anything that meant wholesale job losses, and that's been reflected in the agreement and what I've seen so far and that's reassuring, but I still want to make sure of the detail."