The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Resource material › Our Policy Advice Areas › Racing Policy

We administer the Racing Portfolio and our Policy Group provides policy advice to the Minister for Racing on related matters. We also administer the Racing Safety Development Fund.

The Ministerial portfolio of Internal Affairs is also relevant to racing, especially with respect to the wider gambling industry (see: Gambling Policy).

Racing reforms come into force

On 1 July 2019 the Racing Reform Act 2019 (the Act) comes into force. The Act forms the government’s first legislative response to the recommendations of the Messara Report.

The Act reconstitutes the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) as the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA). RITA manages the transition and day-to-day operations of the industry for a limited period.

The Act also introduces two offshore charges, an information use charge and a point of consumption charge. These charges ensure that overseas betting operators that don’t already have agreements in place with the NZRB start to contribute to New Zealand, including to the racing and sports codes from which they benefit. Further information on offshore charges will be published as it comes available.

The Act allows betting on sports not currently represented by a qualifying domestic national sporting organisation and places the formula for calculating payments to racing codes and sporting organisations into regulations.

The totalisator duty (betting levy), which is currently paid to the Crown, will be phased out over three years and these funds will instead be reinvested with the racing and sport sectors. A proportion of these funds will also be set aside for industry-led gambling harm minimisation initiatives. The actual proportions will be determined by regulations due to be set at a later stage.

The Minister for Racing intends to introduce a second Bill later this year. This will build upon these initial reforms by establishing future governance arrangements and implementing other Messara recommendations.

Offshore charges

1 July 2019
The Racing Reform Act 2019 provides that the Department of Internal Affairs is the designated authority for offshore betting charges, with the power to delegate to another entity.

The Act also provides transitional provisions to ensure that betting use information agreements currently in force or under negotiation with Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) can smoothly transition into the new offshore charges regime. This will allow offshore betting operators with an established relationship with RITA (through its predecessor the NZRB) to conclude agreements with RITA.

Offshore betting operators wanting to enter into new agreements for betting use information will need to wait until the offshore charges regime is brought into being through regulations. It is expected that the development of these regulations will take some months to come into effect and betting operators will be consulted as part of the regulation setting process.

Further information will be published here as it is developed.

Government Review of the New Zealand Racing Industry

The Minister for Racing, Rt Hon WInston Peters, has announced changes to revitalise the New Zealand racing industry. Cabinet has agreed to the overall intent of the Messara Report released in August 2018 and have agreed to plans to implement reforms through two Bills to amend the Racing Act 2003. The first Bill, due to be enacted by 1 July 2019, will begin the process of structural reform and provide financial relief to the industry.

More information on the Government Review of the NZ Racing industry can be found here:

Racing Review (updated 1 July 2019)

Messara Report into the New Zealand Racing Industry

30 August 2018
In April 2018 the Minister for Racing, Rt Hon Winston Peters appointed senior Australian racing expert John Messara to review the New Zealand racing industry's governance structures, and provide recommendations on future directions for the industry. The Minister released the report on 30 August 2018 and it can be found here:

Racing Amendment Bill Introduced

1 August 2017
Racing Minister David Bennett has introduced legislation to require betting operators outside of New Zealand offering bets in respect of New Zealand racing or sports, or accepting bets from in New Zealand, to pay charges for the benefit of New Zealand sports and racing.

Government to amend the Racing Act 2003

23 March 2017

Minister for Racing, Hon Nathan Guy, has announced plans to amend the Racing Act 2003 to give the New Zealand Racing Board more betting options, and introduce levies for offshore gambling operators taking bets from New Zealand or offering bets on New Zealand racing and sport.

Read the Minister’s media release: Government to amend Racing Act 2003 (Beehive website)

A Bill is now being prepared for introduction to Parliament.

Read the submissions on proposed changes to the Racing Act 2003

The submissions on the proposed changes to the Racing Act 2003 are now available to view.

The Department of Internal Affairs sought public feedback on proposals that would give the New Zealand Racing Board more betting options, and introduce levies for offshore gambling operators taking bets from New Zealand or offering bets on New Zealand racing and sport. Submissions were received between 15 April and 27 May 2016.

The Department received 46 submissions, including submissions from 18 racing clubs, 13 racing industry representatives and eight individuals. Submissions were also received from problem gambling support providers, online wagering providers, a National Sports Organisation and an online wagering industry representative.

Read the submissions: Submissions on proposals to amend the Racing Act 2003

Link here to the discussion document: The proposals in the discussion document have been informed by the Report of the Offshore Racing and Sports Betting Working Group. The report can be accessed here:

Working Group Report released by Racing Minister

The report of the Working Group on offshore racing and sports betting was released by the Racing Minister Nathan Guy on 24 November 2015.

The Minister’s speech and a digital copy of the report are available on the Beehive website.

The Minister will report to Cabinet in 2016 on the Working Group’s recommendations.

Terms of reference: offshore racing and sports betting working group

The offshore racing and sports betting working group (the working group) is appointed to consider and recommend practical options for addressing the issues of New Zealanders betting on racing and sports with offshore providers; and offshore providers taking bets on New Zealand racing and sports without contributing to the local industry.

About the Racing Act 2003

On 1 August 2003, the
Racing Act 2003 came into force. The Act:
  • repealed the Racing Act 1971 and replaces it with a simpler statute
  • established the New Zealand Racing Board in place of the Racing Industry Board and Totalisator Agency Board
  • provides for the appointment of the Board by the Minister following a comprehensive nomination and consultation process
  • gives greater autonomy to the racing codes for distributing TAB profits, while strengthening lines of accountability between clubs, codes and the Board
  • deems various rules, including betting rules and the rules of racing, to be regulations (this means that Parliament will be able to scrutinise the rules to ensure fairness).

Other Relevant Legislation

Key Racing Industry Groups

Racing Act 2003 governs two statutory bodies - the New Zealand Racing Board and the Judicial Control Authority. It also confers varying degrees of recognition on a wide range of other industry organisations.

New Zealand Racing Board

New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) has a dual role as both the industry’s main policy body and as the provider of race and sports betting. It has a statutory responsibility to develop policies that are conducive to the economic development of the racing industry and the economic well-being of those who derive their livelihoods from racing.

The key functions of the NZRB include:
  • determining the racing calendar each year
  • conducting on-course and off-course racing betting and sports betting, and making rules relating to betting
  • distributing funds obtained from betting to the racing codes
  • administering the racing judicial system
  • developing or implementing (or arranging for) programmes for the purposes of reducing problem gambling and minimising the effects of that gambling
  • undertaking (or arranging for) research, development and education for the benefit of New Zealand racing
The NZRB retains the TAB brand for race and sports betting, and inherits a wide network of retail outlets.

Current Members of the New Zealand Racing Board

The NZRB governing body consists of seven members, appointed by the Minister, as follows:
  • An independent chairperson appointed after consultation with the racing industry
  • One person appointed on the nomination of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing
  • One person appointed on the nomination of Harness Racing New Zealand
  • One person appointed on the nomination of the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association
  • Three persons appointed on the advice of a nomination advisory panel.

Judicial Control Authority

Judicial Control Authority (JCA), established in 1996, appoints all judicial panels for harness and thoroughbred race meetings, as well as judicial panels to hear non-raceday enquiries relating to the rules of racing (horse ownership issues, racehorse doping, etc). It also appoints tribunals to hear raceday and non-raceday appeals. (Greyhound judicial panels are appointed in accordance with the rules of greyhound racing).

Recognised Industry Organisations

Racing Act 2003 gives recognition to approximately 140 recognised industry organisations. These include the three racing code bodies (thoroughbred, harness and greyhound), registered racing clubs and several sector groups.

Racing Codes

The governing bodies of racing are
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Incorporated (formerly the New Zealand Racing Conference), Harness Racing New Zealand Incorporated and the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association (Incorporated). The code governing bodies are responsible for the rules of racing, and for the registration of all racing participants human, equine and canine. Only those owners, trainers, jockeys, drivers, horses and greyhounds that are licensed by the relevant racing code may participate in the industry.

Racing Clubs - Thoroughbred, Harness and Greyhound

Racing clubs are permitted to run race meetings in accordance with the racing codes’ rules of racing, and pursuant to betting licences issued by the NZRB. Racing clubs are generally incorporated societies.

Sector Groups

The following sector groups represent the interests of various industry professionals and other participants, and are recognised by the Racing Act:

Race and Sports Betting

The NZRB provides opportunities to bet on horse (gallops and harness) and dog races, and sporting events. Betting on horse races through the TAB has occurred since 1950, betting on greyhound races since 1981, and sports betting since 1996.

Retail Network for Race and Sports Betting

The NZRB provides on-course services to licensed racing clubs at 65 racing venues throughout the country. Off-course betting is available through TAB retail outlets. These comprise sub-agencies (pub and club outlets), including self-service terminals, and dedicated TAB agencies.

The NZRB also operate a telephone betting service, Internet betting via the TAB website, and interactive remote betting through Sky digital TV.

'Trackside TV' is a channel launched in 1992 to broadcast every race the TAB takes betting on. Trackside is free to air on UHF, and also broadcasts on SKY digital. 'Radio Trackside' is a national racing radio network broadcasting race calls, racing news, talk and information.

More Information