New Zealand Racing Authority’s CEO Resigns

Horse racing
Head of RITA John Allen has revealed that, come year-end, he will be stepping down as Chief Executive Officer of the Racing Industry Transition Authority (RITA).

RITA was previously called the New Zealand Racing Board, but most people call it the TAB. It is New Zealand’s only legal betting operator, for racing and sports, and it was set up to manage and oversee the reform of racing and betting in New Zealand.

The Right Move

In an official statement, Allen confirmed he was retiring and that it was his own decision to do so. Also, that he would remain at the helm until the end of the year. He went on to explain that he had been leader of the TAB for over four years, and he had only ever intended to stay for five, and that the time was right. He pointed out that some of the key projects he had been responsible for implementing were now in place, such as the FOB (fixed odds betting), and much of the legislation requirements recommended in the Messara report were in fact close to being finalised.

Furthermore, he added, the major programmes of investment were mostly completed, which had created a strong foundation upon which to grow products for NZ punters, and profit for the racing industry. He admitted it had been a difficult decision to make, but after five years as chief exec, with the reforms happening, it was time for the TAB to start looking for a new leader to step in and manage the transition to TAB NZ, and deliver the revenue growth needed to support a sustainable horseracing industry.

John Allen has faced criticisms during his tenure for not generating optimum returns, in spite of the major relaunch with OpenBet and Paddy Power Betfair earlier this year. In April, the TAB reported that net profit for the first half of the 2018/19 fiscal year was down a worrying 3.5% on last year, for the same period.

Earning Industry Recognition

Chairman of RITA Dean McKenzie acknowledged the leadership Allen had brought to the TAB since becoming CEO in 2015. The innovations that Mr Allen had overseen had provided them with a solid foundation upon which to grow, and the board had confidence that these investments would deliver the returns the industry needed, in the years to come.

He said that now they would focus on lifting profits, improving the betting experience for the Kiwi punter and increasing distributions to racing. Their sights were set on achieving the outcomes that had been projected in their current reform of racing.

Allen will stay on board until December to assist with the transition to new management.