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    NSW greyhound industry claims ban on gambling ads would result in dogs suffering
NSW greyhound industry claims ban on gambling ads would result in dogs suffering

NSW greyhound industry claims ban on gambling ads would result in dogs suffering

The New South Wales greyhound racing industry is urging members to lobby federal ministers not to ban gambling advertising, arguing it would result in dogs suffering and animal welfare programs closing.

The federal government is considering the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling, which called for online inducements to be immediately banned before a complete advertising ban in three years.

An email from Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) says any ban on gambling promotions would decimate the industry as “racing is funded via state taxes on wagering”.

“It would have devastating and irreversible consequences for our sport, every dog in it, every person in it, every club, every track, and all those towns and villages in NSW where greyhound racing is a local sport,” said the GRNSW email obtained by Guardian Australia.

“The animal welfare implications alone are huge.”

The letter estimated a ban on gambling inducements would take more than $20m a year out of the NSW greyhound racing industry. When contacted for comment, GRNSW said that figure came after conversations with its wagering partners.

“That would eat up all our welfare programs plus all of GAP [greyhound adoption program] and all rehoming, plus all of our safety programs put together,” the letter said.

The number of greyhounds injured or killed on NSW racetracks surged last year, with a report from the state’s industry regulator finding that last winter was the worst on record for the sport since 2018.

The regulator found 67 dogs suffered “catastrophic and major” injuries from July to September 2022. Of those, 19 died. Overall there were 939 injuries across all categories, representing injuries to 21% of the dogs that raced over the three months.

Kylie Field, spokesperson for the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds, said it was absurd to claim greyhounds would suffer if gambling advertisements were banned.

“Similar threats are made whenever the industry is called to account. The only way to improve animal welfare is to phase out greyhound racing,” Field said.

“Meanwhile, fleecing problem gamblers is totally unacceptable to most Australians. By seeking to exempt greyhound racing from the recommendations of the gambling inquiry, the dog racing industry is showing its true colours – all it cares about is money.”

The GRNSW letter encouraged people to email their concerns to the communications minister, Michelle Rowland, the social services minister, Amanda Rishworth, and the sports minister, Anika Wells. All three ministers were contacted for comment.

“For those of us who live in regional areas of NSW, you might particularly point out that the bush, like always, will be the worst affected,” the letter said.

Rob Macaulay, the chief executive of GRNSW, said his organisation had been discussing its concerns with the federal government. He said this was “a huge issue for regional NSW” in “a time of economic difficulty”.

“We’ve had some good initial discussions with the government, and we look forward to working with them to getting the right balance,” Macaulay said.

Macaulay citied said any ban on gambling inducements would also affect the future of greyhound racing in Victoria.

“I am quite sure that that is not the federal government’s desire, but it would be the result,” Macaulay said.

Field argued against the greyhound industry having a carve out from any advertising ban, citing the strength of community concern about gambling and animal welfare.

“If the federal government decides to exempt dog racing from the inquiry recommendations to cut gambling inducements, it would be disregarding voter feedback,” Field said.

Federal ministers are also being lobbied by gambling companies and the industry’s peak body, along with harm reduction advocates who are urging the government not to water down the inquiry’s recommendations.

Many companies, including Australia’s largest online bookmaker, SportsBet, have campaigned against a total ban on inducements and advertising. In the first six months of this year, SportsBet increased its marketing spend by $19m ahead of the expected crackdown.

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