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America's Cup- Yachting NZ signs up for betting on yacht racing

by Zoe Hawkins and Sail-World on 23 Dec 2008
The odds of Team New Zealand reaching the America’s Cup Match after their performance in 2003 would have been an interesting bet. MCC McCamp

It is now possible to bet on yacht racing through a deal signed between Yachting NZ and the NZ Racing Board.

The move is expected to allow New Zealanders and international punters the opportunity to bet on the outcomes of yacht races. The move has been announced by Yachting New Zealand, however no comment has yet been made by the Racing Board, which is known to have been pursuing the agreement for some time.

The statement issued by Yachting New Zealand reads:

Yachting New Zealand has reached an agreement with the New Zealand Racing Board which allows the Board (TAB) to conduct betting on yachting.

Many major New Zealand sports have allowed betting for some time, and this is sanctioned under section 5 of the Racing Act 2003.

Yachting New Zealand's Chief Executive Des Brennan says, 'Most sports funding is sourced from gaming activity, and when Yachting New Zealand sought the views of members last year, we found that there was little strong opinion against the move.'

While it is not foreseen that funding from betting will be a major source of income, it is hoped that it will be a useful one. It is also hoped that any promotion of events carried out by the TAB will increase the visibility of yachting and increase interest in its principal regattas.



Under NZ Law it is required that the national body of the sport is required to give permission before the Racing Board is able to operate a book on that sport.

Several sports make very good returns from the bookmaking activities off public interest in major overseas sports events such as basketball and football leagues.

Others do not do quite so well, but pick up useful revenue anyway. By NZ Law a percentage of the revenue has to be returned to the sport.

Yachting has a speckled past with the activities of bookmakers.

They were a traditional part of 18ft skiff racing, offing odds to punters on the Sydney ferries following the racing, and this extended across the Tasman.

During the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup the waterfront scuttlebutt alleged that the wives of several crew members aboard one of the challengers had made a fortune off international bookmakers, after their team was alleged to have known that one of the competitors was going to throw a race, to achieve a certain, and more favourable draw in the next stage of the regatta.

During the 2007 America's Cup several international organisations offered odds on the outcome of racing, however New Zealanders were not able to participate locally, and today's announcement means that this situation has now changed.

Currently there are over 300,000 competitors in the virtual Volvo Ocean Race, a significant increase on previous years, and with the multiplicity of leg and gates in the event, plus the opportunity to bet on leg times, speed records and the like, there would seem to be a good opportunity for the more able virtual punters to be able to put their money where their mouse is.

Certainly with the extended duration of many high profile international sailing competitions - ranging from just a few days like the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race, to three months for the America's Cup regatta and onto about nine months for the Volvo Ocean Race, there is plenty of opportunity to build a strong following amongst punters on an event - unlike many other sports, save for maybe the football and basketball leagues.

Yachting is a high profile and successful sport in New Zealand, and the small nation of just over 4 million population competes with distinction at Olympic level, Match Racing, Round the World races and America's Cup, offering no shortage of events for local punters and sailing fans.

It is not known if odds will be offered on the upcoming Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

However it is expected that odds will be offered on the next America's Cup, with possibly the first bet being on the actual start date of the regatta!

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