RITA looking at TAB layoffs amid Covid-19 crisis

| By contenteditor
The New Zealand Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) is to launch a consultation over a number of proposed changes to the TAB, including a signficant reduction in personnel, as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The New Zealand Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) is to launch a consultation over a number of proposed changes to the TAB, including a signficant reduction in personnel, as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The proposal includes cutting up to 30% of roles across all areas of the organisation, as well as measures to reduce the transitional authority's expenditure going forward.

Further details of the proposed changes will be presented to staff on 11 May. If plans were to be approved, RITA said this would help the organisation become leaner and more efficient, with increased focus on commercial activity and customers.

RITA executive chair Dean McKenzie explained that the changes had been necessitated by a sharp fall in revenue and customer activity as a result of Covid-19, and the suspension of all racing.

“The TAB has taken a major hit from Covid-19 with revenue last month 47% below forecast and customer numbers down more than 35 percent,” McKenzie said.

“Despite far reaching efforts to reduce costs across the TAB, including salary reductions, staff taking leave and reducing all non-essential expenses, it simply was not enough to offset the blow Covid-19 has had, and will have, on our industry.

“The implication of the pandemic extends beyond the immediate impact to the TAB, with racing and sport looking very unpredictable over the next year. The reality is the TAB will need to be a leaner, more efficient business with fewer roles, and focused on driving our core wagering and gaming business.”

A final decision on the proposed changes to the TAB will be made before the end of May.

The announcement comes after RITA last week set out its transitional calendar for the remainder of the 2019-20 horse racing season, and also confirmed the return of greyhound racing.

Harness racing is set to resume on 29 May, with thoroughbred racing to follow on 3 July, while greyhound racing started up again yesterday (5 May).

Racing has been suspended in the country since 25 March when the government implemented Alert Level 4, which resulted in a nationwide lockdown. However, this was recently lowered to Alert Level 3, allowing racing staff to recommence trialling and training.

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