Media Centre

Messara in broadside against betting industry

ARROWFIELD chairman John Messara, one of the most influential voices in Australian racing, has launched a scathing broadside against the global betting industry.

In an article posted on the website of Arrowfield, one of Australia's most powerful studs, he writes that "having visited several racing nations in the last month, including the UK, Ireland, France and Singapore, it seems that the bookmaker issue is one of the major contributors to the worldwide decline of our sport."

John Messara

John Messara: proposes bookmakers pay a product fee

Messara claims that the revenue stream from bookmakers to racing is being diluted "through the unwillingness of bookmakers, legal or illegal, onshore or offshore, corporate or otherwise, to pay for their utilisation of the racing product."

In an echo of the tug of war between British bookmakers and racing for funding from the Levy system, Messara bemoans the fact that Australia has a packed racing calendar to generate extra revenue from bookmakers.

 "The Royal Ascot meeting and others, which I attended, offer proof positive that racing still has a strong franchise. These kinds of meetings should be the highlights of a much smaller programme of racing than we currently offer [in Australia]," he said.

"Whatever agreement racing has with the TAB [Totalisator Agency Board, Australia's mostly privatised tote provider] to supply 'racing product' mindlessly, seven days a week, needs revision, if racing is to remain - or rather, become - a mainstream sport."

Messara added that prize-money in Australia covers less than 40 per cent of training expenses - not taking into account the purchase price owners pay for a horse - and that breeders currently own more than 60 per cent of the country's horses in training and part-own 80 per cent of them.

He has proposed that bookmakers pay a product fee based on gross turnover to help fund prize-money and the development of racecourses in order to attract new fans and owners to racing.

Messara is a former chairman of Thoroughbred Breeders' Australia and Aushorse, the marketing board for Australian thoroughbreds, and has also sat on the Australian Pattern committee.

He launched the stellar southern-hemisphere stud career of Danehill, and stands his leading son Redoute's Choice at Arrowfield. He also part-owns Darley July Cup third Alverta, who is trained by his son Paul.






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