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Tab NZ CEO exits as government approves Entain deal

| By Robert Fletcher
Tab NZ has announced Mike Tod will step down as its chief executive following confirmation that New Zealand’s government approved its new strategic partnership with Entain.
Tab NZ Chair

Under the deal that was agreed in March, Entain will support Tab NZ with delivering betting and broadcast functions in the country for a period of 25 years.

Governmental approval means the arrangement will come into effect from 1 June. Tab NZ said the partnership will enable an immediate financial uplift to the three racing codes and 38 national sporting organisations.

“The approval delivers on a key recommendation from the Messara Report (2018) and we are thrilled that the minister for racing has approved the strategic partnering arrangement,” Tab NZ chairman Mark Stewart said. 

“Tab NZ is at a critical point in its history due to unprecedented competition from unregulated overseas operators and current global economic headwinds.”

Funding boost

Supported by the new deal, the Tab NZ board has guaranteed an immediate and significant uplift in distributions to Racing Codes for the next five years.

The minimum level for 2023-24 will be NZ$170m (£86m/€99m/US$107m), up 36% on the current financial year. The 2024-24 figure will be NZ$175m, then NZ$180m in 2025-26, NZ$185m in 2026-27 and NZ$200m for 2027-28. 

Meanwhile, national sporting organisations will take a share from a one-off funding uplift of NZ$15m to be paid over the next three years. A NZ$500,000 payment will also be made to Sport NZ, ring-fenced for investment in women’s sport.

In addition, a NZ$5m upfront commitment will be made to harm minimisation. This includes a NZ$4m investment to accelerate the rollout of facial recognition technology to 100 Tab venues; and a NZ$1m research fund to provide grants for research into gambling harm.

“We believe this 25-year strategic partnering arrangement will be a gamechanger for sports betting in New Zealand,” Entain Australia chief executive Dean Shannon said. “We’re pleased that it will help provide significant financial benefits to the three New Zealand racing codes and the vast array of national sporting organisations.

Tod exits

Shortly after government approval was confirmed, Tab NZ also announced that Tod would step down as its CEO. 

Nick Roberts will assume the role from 1 June and focus on transitioning and leading the remaining Tab NZ to its future state.

The remaining statutory entity will have a smaller operating model and focus on Tab NZ’s retained functions. These include delivering on legislative obligations, monitoring the regulatory and commercial performance of Entain, exploring new commercial opportunities with Entain, and working with the government on reforms to New Zealand’s online gambling laws.

“As general counsel and then chief transition officer, Nick was a critical part of the team that worked tirelessly on securing the strategic partnering arrangement with Entain,” Stewart of Tab NZ said.

“The retention of Nick’s commercial acumen and legal skills, particularly his experience and deep knowledge of the legislative settings in NZ, the wagering ecosystem and the contract that underpins the Entain arrangement will prove extremely valuable to the Tab NZ board, our regulators and indeed the stakeholders that rely on Tab NZ funding.”

Roberts added: “We have secured a generational change in the fortunes for racing. It is now up to the leaders across the racing industry to seize this opportunity and deliver a sustainable operating model over the next five years and give customers a world class product and experience.

“Our sporting partners are also set to benefit from Entain’s investment in products and services. Some key national sporting organisations will be able to invest deeply in participation and elite performance as a result of the extra funding they will receive from Tab NZ.”

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