**UPDATE** - The NZRB 2017 Annual Report has now been published. View the report here.

Thank you to those of you who were able to attend the NZRB AGM at Karaka yesterday evening. If you were unable to attend, the AGM is available for viewing on Youtube.

The AGM, of course, is the last part of our reporting process for the previous year and would normally come with the publication of our Annual Report, however before publication takes place the document needs to tabled in Parliament by the Racing Minister, and due to Hon Winston Peters’ travel commitments and workload over the past few weeks this has not been possible.

What I can say is that NZRB is delivering on its financial commitments and it is delivering on its commitments to increase support to the industry.

Over the past year NZRB has delivered the Optimus programme, the largest technology project in 30 years. We have also made good progress on our key strategic initiatives - fixed odds betting platform, customer and channel improvements, racefields legislation and our optimise the calendar project. We estimate these projects, once fully delivered, will increase net profit to close to $200 million in 2019/20 year.

We are confident that the key strategic initiatives being progressed will deliver a significant uplift in distributable profit, so earlier this year we announced our commitment to deliver some of the future funding increase early, by providing an additional $12 million to be applied to stakes in the 2017/18 season to enhance participation in racing - the largest increase in stakes in the last ten years.

We have delivered a number of Customer and Channels initiatives which has seen 192,200, active account customers place a bet over the past year - up 6.7% on last year, with our digital channels continuing to grow in popularity and accounting for 58% of betting activity and our TAB Mobile App remains our fastest growing touchpoint, up 63.6% on last year.

While I’m proud of the result my team have delivered, the exceptionally high number of abandonments this year have made things challenging. Over the last ten years, there has been an average of nine abandonments per season - this year we had four times that, with 36 meetings affected by abandonments, costing the industry $2.3 million in lost profit.

This situation raises some fundamental questions about the state of and use of racing infrastructure and the investment required to address these sorts of issues. I am currently working on a plan in conjunction with the Codes to look at an industry agreed solution that will be a key focus for NZRB over the coming year.

John Allen