The BGRB today published the 2007 racecourse annual statistics, as collated and supplied by the Racecourse Promoters Association (RCPA).

On a national scale, attendances fell by 4.1% and total tote turnover by 3.8%. Total prize money paid was also down by 4.1%, reflecting to some extent the reduction in BGRF prize money contributions paid in 2007 which were largely reversed in 2008.

Statistics were provided from 26 of the 29 NGRC-licensed tracks, of which eight reported increased attendances in 2007 and 11 reported increases in their average tote turnover per race. A small increase in the number of meetings held and races run was also confirmed.

Commenting on the figures, BGRB Chairman David Lipsey said:

“There is no getting away from the fact that the overall statistics are generally disappointing although I am very encouraged to see that a good number of tracks across the country bucked the trends and boosted their attendances in 2007.

“There appear to have been a number of factors combining to make 2007 a tough trading year for tracks. The combination of introducing the smoking ban and the rising popularity of ‘stay at home’ leisure activities has affected not just greyhound racing but also casinos, horse racing, bingo halls and pubs. Greyhound racing has to remind the public how much more entertaining and enjoyable a night at the dogs is compared to staying in watching a DVD or surfing the net, and I am delighted that the BGRF has been able to support a new promotional initiative which will be rolled out during the autumn.

 

“2007 also witnessed the introduction of year-round evening opening of betting shops and a corresponding increase in the amount of BEGS racing. One positive result was a small increase in voluntary levy contributions; however there was almost certainly a resulting negative impact on attendances.”

Despite the disappointing data being published, Lipsey confirmed his belief that there remains cause for quiet optimism:

“We are entering a difficult economic period that will test the resilience of many operators in the leisure sector. However, our sport continues to offer a fun, exciting and affordable night out and that is the message we must promote.

“I am pleased that several tracks including Nottingham, Sunderland and Kinsley have recently, or are currently, investing in their facilities. The recent success of Yarmouth, as an example, confirms that those with quality restaurant, bar and entertainment facilities are in a much stronger position to compete successfully in an increasingly competitive market.

“Local improvements to stadia must be accompanied by national PR and marketing campaigns and so far in 2008 we have seen an increase in the volume and diversity of positive media coverage of the sport. As already mentioned, we are putting the finishing touches to a significant autumn marketing campaign, details of which will be announced shortly.

“Only last week the senior appointments for the new Greyhound Board of Great Britain were announced, and looking at the calibre of the successful individuals it is clear that the transition committee has set out to find first class people with track records of success. There are many challenges for the sport to face in its new era, but the GBGB will be led by a team who can take advantage of the new structure to help it fulfil its obvious potential.”

Lipsey concluded by alluding to the potential offered by new tote betting opportunities:

“Tote turnover is very important to the health of a track and whilst on-course betting levels faltered during 2007, the arrival of GOTTO gives the sport an important opportunity to harness the potential of off course tote betting. I fully expect interest in the product, and in a variety of new and innovative tote pool bets, to increase in the months ahead.”

Estimated totals for all tracks in 2007:

Attendance: 3,200,000

Tote Turnover: £75,100,000

Races: 75,600

Meetings: 5,750

Prize money £15,737,122

Like for like comparisons based on figures from 26 tracks*:

Attendance: Like for like change: -4.1%

Tote Turnover: Like for like change: -3.8%

Races: Like for like change: +2.0%

Meetings: Like for like change: +0.6%

Prize Money: Like for like change: -4.1%

On-course Bookmakers: Like for like change: -4.8%

Average attendance per meeting: Like for like change: -4.7%

Average on-course tote turnover per race: Like for like change: -5.7%

*Figures for “Like for like change” are based on a comparison of the 26 tracks whose data was included in both 2006 and 2007 statistics. Coventry, Henlow and Shawfield did not return statistics for 2007 having done so in 2006. Hull reopened towards the end of 2007 and therefore its figures were not available.