The recently released “Size and Scope of the Victorian Greyhound Racing Industry” report , states that in 2015-2016, the industry was responsible for generating more than $408.6 million dollars in value added contribution to the Victorian economy.
The claim is made by GRV that “Greyhound racing contributes hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Victoria’s economy through direct expenditure, salaries, flow-on effects and profits as well as creating thousands of jobs, mainly in regional communities.” .
In accepting the claims made by the report, it needs to be noted that:
- There are significant problems with the validity of the IER as it is based on
unaudited data provided by the racing industry itself, as stated in the report’s
disclaimer (see below).
- It has also been prepared “to meet the requirements set out by GRV within their terms of reference”. Thus, the report cannot be expected to provide objective or unbiased data. Rather, it has been produced to portray the industry in the most positive light possible.
Paste In 1: Report Disclaimer
Bias is evident in the way the statistics have been constructed and reported. For example, it states its key findings at the beginning of the report as follows:
Paste In 2: Key Findings
As shown in Paste In 2, the noted direct expenditure amount is $298.3 not the $408.6 million highlighted by GRV above.
Value-added expenditure includes any expenditure that is not directly related to the industry, and it is this amount that is the larger figure of $408.6. As noted in the report itself, this expenditure would not necessarily fall if the industry ceased to exist as local people would spend their money on other activities and therefore, the contribution of those other sectors would rise and replace that generated by the industry (see Paste In 3 – taken from the report).
Paste In 3: Methodology Note in the Size and Scope Report
Upfront in the report as shown in Paste in 2, it is stated that there are the equivalent of 2,888 full-time jobs (FTE) generated by the industry but later in the report, it is made clear this figure includes indirect jobs. In fact, the total of direct FTE jobs is 1,216.
On page 23 the report states: “In 2015/16, the economic activity generated by the Victorian greyhound racing industry directly sustained 1,216 full time equivalent positions in Victoria. In addition to the direct employment impact, the activities of the greyhound racing industry also help to sustain a further 1,672 FTE jobs in support industries.”
As with direct expenditure, the indirect jobs currently supported by greyhound racing would be absorbed by the consequent increased size of other sectors if greyhound racing ceased to exist.
It is also noteworthy that, in its 2015 Industry report for Horse and Dog Racing , IBISWorld, concluded that “Industry revenue has been declining due to flat attendance numbers” and industry revenue is declining at a compound annual rate of 2.3%.
Greyhound Racing is a Gambling Industry
In their 2014 piece, Markham and Young state “The growth of ‘Big Gambling’ in Australia is an ongoing class project. It is one that has transferred, with industrial efficiency, billions of dollars from the pay packets of the working classes to the bank accounts of a super-rich elite.” 
They argue that a viable gambling industry without the extensive exploitation of the Australian working class in unimaginable since the data show that gambling problems are concentrated amongst the poorest social groups in Australia, and gambling revenue largely depends on problem gamblers .
The data indicate that gambling industries do not create “new jobs”. Rather, they simply divert employment from other sectors and they don’t create new wealth either. Rather, they transfer wealth from poor to rich. Moreover, gambling likely reduces economic activity by diverting gamblers away from productive labor .
According to the Productivity Commission, as many as 170,000 Australian adults face significant gambling problems and a further 350,000 are vulnerable. Of concern, for every addicted gambler, there are 10 more people who are seriously affected. This includes families, friends and employers. According to the Commission, 60% of problem gamblers who have sought counselling, have spoken of suicide. As many as 400 suicides each year can be attributed to addictive gambling .
Psychological Distress and Problem Gambling
It is a known fact that the greyhound racing industry destroys thousands upon thousands of animal lives. It is also clear that it significantly contributes to the psychological distress and financial ruin of thousands upon thousands of Australian humans, most of who are already battling in our society .
A 2015 Australian Psychological Society survey into Stress and wellbeing, reported a strong association between gambling and psychological distress including severe anxiety and depression . Governments themselves have acknowledged this relationship .
The evidence points to a desperate need to reduce gambling access and to make it less attractive so that people vulnerable to this societal vice are not so easily seduced. The irony is that while touting the economic benefits of the greyhound racing industry, governments are pouring millions of dollars into responsible gambling funds aimed at addressing the “risks of problem gambling and associated harms to the community.” .
Why not just shut down greyhound racing and at least circumvent the problem associated with this one form of gambling for which the social license has well and truly expired?
Let’s get the dogs off the track and onto the sofa where most Australians would like them to be.
- Size and Scope of the Victorian Greyhound Racing Industry.
- New report highlights greyhound racing’s economic contribution to Victoria’s
- Markham, F., & Young, M. (March, 2014). Who winds from ‘Big Gambling’ in Australia? The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/who-wins-from-big-gambling-in-australia-22930
- Maslen, G. (2012). Waiting for the wins. http://www.aph.gov.au/sitecore/content/Home/About_Parliament/House_of_Representatives/About_the_House_Magazine/Previous/ATH45/waiting.
- Australian Psychological Society (2015). Stress and wellbeing: How Australians are coping with life. https://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/2014-APS-NPW-Survey-WEB-reduced.pdf
- Stress and Wellbeing report 2015 https://www.responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/information-and-resources/whats-new/stress-and-wellbeing-report-2015
- Problem gamblers get more help in budget. http://westernweekender.com.au/2017/06/problem-gamblers-get-more-help-in-budget/
- IBISWord (2015) IBISWorld Industry Report R9120 Horse and Dog Racing in Australia.