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Funding package to protect jobs and support equine and participant welfare

Racing Victoria (RV) welcomes today’s ‘Experience Economy Survival Package’ announced by the Victorian Government to provide vital funding to sporting, cultural and tourism businesses and industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Victorian thoroughbred racing generates $3.2 billion in annual economic activity for the state and supports the equivalent of more than 25,000 jobs. Overall, there are 110,000 people who are employed or participate in Victorian thoroughbred racing and close to 10,000 racehorses in training each year.

While thoroughbred racing in Victoria has largely been able to continue under strict biosecurity protocols during the pandemic, industry revenue has been significantly impacted due to the lockout of crowds and reductions from the VicTAB Joint Venture.

The social restrictions and necessary industry biosecurity protocols has hit Victoria’s 69 thoroughbred racing clubs – 66 of which are in regional and country Victoria – hard with meetings cancelled, non-raceday events banned and the exclusion of crowds meaning lost employment, hospitality, dining and sponsorship opportunities.

The Victorian Wagering Licence sees the state’s three racing codes receive returns from VicTAB wagering on all domestic and international sport and racing, much of which has ceased. The shutdown of pubs, clubs and TAB agencies has further compounded this.

The $16.6 million received by RV from the ‘Experience Economy Survival Package’ will provide necessary short-term funding until 30 September 2020 to ensure the following:

  1. Maintain current reduced prizemoney levels and ensure no further cuts are required for the period. Prizemoney is the lifeblood for industry participants and underpins industry investment and jobs. It was cut by 20% for all Victorian metropolitan races and 10% for all country races on 6 April 2020.
  2. Provide funding support to Racing Clubs across the state whose operations have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions. The investment will ensure that Club funding can be maintained at pre-COVID-19 levels for the period. 
  3. The continuation of equine and participant welfare programs, ensuring that RV’s three-year equine welfare strategic plan can continue to be progressed without impediment; and
  4. Maintain essential infrastructure programs and projects to ensure the safety and viability of all participants through appropriate racing and training facilities.

RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, said: “We welcome and thank the Victorian Government for this vitally important funding contribution which helps support our industry through the short-term challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This investment will protect jobs; ensure the continuation of critical welfare programs and infrastructure works; and help support our Racing Clubs who have been greatly impacted by the restrictions in place.

“Whilst we have been able to conduct the majority of our meetings, all without crowds, the industry’s revenue streams have been hit hard and that has required reductions in prizemoney of up to 20% and the standing down of staff across the industry.

“This funding will ensure that we can maintain prizemoney – which is the lifeblood for our participants and underpins investment in our industry – at the current reduced levels without needing to make further prizemoney cuts.”