The significant contribution made by the greyhound racing industry to the Irish exchequer and rural employment is highlighted in a new report which has been published this morning at Shelbourne Park in Dublin.
The report, compiled by consultant economist Jim Power, and commissioned by Greyhound Racing Ireland shows the industry made a net contribution to the Irish economy of €132.3 million in 2019 and supported 4,150 full-time and part-time jobs.
An additional 6,211 active greyhound owners derived economic benefit from the industry in 2019, the last full year of activity before the pandemic. An investment of a further €117.8 million was made by greyhound owners in 2019 in preparing and racing greyhounds.
While Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in a significant decrease in activity and revenue during 2020 and 2021, GRI expects to return to pre-pandemic activity and attendances in 2023.
The numbers are significant and an important statement in support of maintaining the state support which comes through the Department of Agriculture as part of the Horse and Greyhound racing fund.
Care and Welfare
The sport has been through difficult times in terms of public relations over care and welfare but the report also highlights the significant work that is a feature of the sport’s approach to this area.
The provision of care and foster care centres, the introduction of an expanded inspection programme for greyhound establishments, the operation of a Greyhound Injuries Support Scheme, and the commissioning of the Rásaíocht Con Éireann Traceability System are outlined.
Detail is also provided of 3,995 greyhounds that have been rehomed over the past three years with the support of GRI and the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust.
“The greyhound industry is going through a very challenging period, but the economic, financial, and employment contribution remains significant,” said Greyhound racing Ireland Chair Frank Nyhan.
“The challenges experienced in recent years by the industry include declining attendances, the closure of some tracks for economic reasons, Brexit and adverse publicity in relation to welfare and other practices within the industry.”
“The ongoing challenge for GRI is to continue the development of a commercial greyhound racing industry built on a consumer-focused, and high-quality entertainment product, which meets the highest possible international regulatory and welfare standards.”
“In 2019, 462,709 patrons attended race meetings, and it is difficult to see that total being surpassed in 2022. However, provided the public and private greyhound stadia are put on a sound commercial footing, and there is a continuance of the aggressive approach to regulating the sector it is anticipated that attendance levels will reach or exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2023.”
The report contains a county-by-county breakdown of the 6,211 active owners across the island of Ireland with Cork leading the way, accounting for 890 or 15% of the overall number followed by Tipperary (669, 11.3%), Kerry (599, 10.1%), Limerick (540, 9.1%), Wexford (314, 5.3%) and Kilkenny (286, 4.8%.) Tipperary accounts for 12.5% (50) of the 400 active trainers in Ireland followed by Cork (38, 9.5%), Kerry (34, 8.5%), Limerick (30, 7.5%), Wexford (21, 5.25%) and Tyrone (19, 4.75%).
Other highlights include betting on Greyhound Racing contributing to the generation of a return to the Exchequer of €95 million in 2019; the raising of €8 million for worthy causes through organised events at stadia around the country and the maintenance of sponsorship revenue and growth of media rights income.
In 2019 and 2020, the Department of Agriculture, Fund and the Marine paid €16.8 million to the greyhound industry through the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund, and it increased the allocation to €19.2 million in 2021 to provide general support to the industry and to enable it deal with Covid.
“The greyhound industry is an important part of the social and economic fabric of rural Ireland. It supports considerable employment directly and indirectly down through the supply chain, and it is an important way of life for greyhound owners around the country. For stakeholders in the sector, it is an important economic and social activity,” added Greyhound racing Ireland CEO Gerard Dollard.
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