Economic misinformation fuels the WA Greyhound Industry

​Generous taxpayer subsidies and a close relationship with Australia’s last state-owned betting Agency allows Western Australia’s greyhound racing industry to persist. This is despite declining popularity and mounting community outrage over animal deaths and conditions. While industry owners profit from government subsidies, greyhounds continue to suffer.

Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA), recently paid research company IER to undertake a study into the size and scope of the racing industry in WA based on the 2021/22 racing season. The primary purpose of this study was to determine the economic contribution made to the WA economy, by the three codes of racing. The report states that it, “has been prepared to meet the requirements set out by RWWA” and that “the information contained in the report has not been subject to an audit”. Despite this, RWWA are now claiming that greyhound racing contributes $225.1M.

The report cites its source expenditure data as having been received from;

  • Registration data
  • Breeding and training data
  • Expenditure and taxation by wagering operators; and
  • Data provided by RWWA and race clubs.

IER state that in order to assess the impact of racing, “a strong understanding of the internal and external flows of money” is required. Despite this, the authors fail to quantify or even acknowledge the money that RWWA receives from the State Government each year to prop up the industry. The latest 2023 IER report (using 2021-22 data) employs fabricated figures, exaggerated data, and uses questionable calculation methods to deceptively present the industry as beneficial to the economy and community of Western Australia.

The report assesses the cost of producing and training greyhounds for racing, with no regard for the costs incurred at the end of racing, either for veterinary costs to treat injuries, euthanasia costs, lifetime care costs or those costs incurred by rescue organisations rehoming greyhounds. No consultation was undertaken with other financially impacted groups, such as rescue organisations, the State Government or problem gambling support organisations, to assess the levels of their expenditure. There is no acknowledgement of the costs of RWWA’s own Greyhounds As Pets Program. It must be assumed that as the report was prepared to meet the requirements set out by RWWA, that these costs were deliberately ignored to artificially inflate the financial contribution from greyhound racing.

IER inflates the significance of the industry in WA by exaggerating and duplicating job numbers through their counting methods. In the 2021-22 period, IER claimed a total of 10,249 full-time jobs in the WA racing industry. However, official ABS data from the same
period indicates an average of only 1,235 total jobs (both full-time and part-time) indicating an overstatement of more than 8 times. IER’s full-time job figures for the 2021-22 WA racing season are larger than their previous report’s 2018-19 figures, despite ABS jobs data in fact showing a 27% decline in jobs over this period. Brazenly, IER’s 1,729 reported full-time workers in just the greyhound racing industry surpasses the 1,235 employees in the entire WA racing industry, which includes thoroughbred and harness horse racing sectors.

A closer examination of the official ABS employment data reveals an alarming discrepancy between IER’s claims and reality. When considering actual hours worked, the WA Horse and Dog racing industry only accounts for a meagre 67 full-time worker equivalents in 2021-22, a far cry from IER’s assertion of 10,249. These inflated numbers result from IER counting the same individuals performing multiple roles as separate people, a fact buried in a caveat mentioning duplication in participation categories.

Finally, while extolling the benefits of the alleged economic contribution of racing in WA, the report acknowledges that the impacts shown in the report, “do not represent the value that would be lost if the industry did not exist”, stating that under a scenario where racing no longer existed, “it is likely that much of the local resident spend would substitute to other activities”. In testament to the flawed conclusions drawn, the report states, “depending on where this spending occurs, the overall economic impact of that spending could be higher or lower than it was when spent on racing”. In plain English, the reported economic benefits ignore the actual costs to the State and are flawed, tenuous and speculative at best.

The full report can be found at;

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