Winston Peters wants to make 'racing great again', with help of $72.5 million funding boost

Winston Peters Source: Getty

New Zealand's racing industry will be given a $72.5 million emergency support package by the Government.

"We are going to make racing great again," Racing Minister Winston Peters said today as he made the announcement.

Mr Peters said Covid-19 upheaval meant the racing industry was facing an "unparalleled crisis in its history".

"It's taken the industry to the brink of insolvency," Mr Peters said, adding it's caused a "dramatic plunge in revenue while costs have remained fixed".

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Winston Peters announced a $72.5 million rescue package for the industry, but denies it’s a bail-out for betting. Source: 1 NEWS

The pre-Budget announcement gives $50 million as a relief grant for the Racing Industry Transition Agency and $20 million for two new all-weather race tracks.

"The intention is to have one located at Awapuni in the Manawatu, and the other at Riccarton Park in Christchurch. The construction of a track in Cambridge is already underway after receiving $6.5 million in Provincial Growth funding."

An extra $2.5 million will be fast tracked for work on online gambling issues.

"Covid-19 has also impacted on funding available to community and sport organisations which receive a share of gambling revenue," Mr Peters said. "There has also been an increase in New Zealanders gambling offshore throughout online platforms."

When asked if his intention was for Kiwis to only be able to gamble online within New Zealand, Mr Peters said, "if we're going to provide the utilities for that to happen, we want New Zealand's economy to benefit".

Mr Peters spoke of "internal squabbling" in racing circles.

"To be honest, we've had enough of mostly old men leaning against the rails, scratching their derriere and blaming everyone else."