The cost of the initial installation of the scheme was beyond the resources of the racing and trotting clubs and accordingly the Government decided that this cost would be met by a deduction or levy of ½ per cent (1 ?d. in the pound) on all investments, both on-course and off-course. This levy, which was imposed for a period of five years, provided ample funds for the initial establishment of the scheme.
The board derives its regular finance from a 7 ½-per-cent commission on all off-course bets placed on the totalisator. This is the same rate of commission as that received by racing clubs on their on-course betting.
Bets are accepted at branches and agencies, for all horse racing and trotting meetings held in New Zealand where a totalisator is operated on the racecourse. Details of all off-course investments are collated at the head office of the board in Wellington and telephoned to the individual racecourse, where they are pooled with the on-course investments.
Approximately 95 per cent of the bets received by the board at its branches and agencies are in cash over the counter, the remaining 5 per cent (approximately) being postal betting and telephone betting against moneys previously deposited with the board.
Over 60 per cent of racing and trotting meetings are held on Saturdays, with the result that the major portion of the business is transacted on Fridays and Saturdays. Ticket sales after 12.30 p.m. on Saturdays are negligible. All offices are open to the public on Mondays, or the next business day after a race day, for the payment of dividends. Bets are for win, place, or double. Only one double is available to off-course investors at each race meeting. The minimum amount of an off-course bet is 5s. for doubles and 10s. for win and place.
Racing and trotting clubs require that off-course betting figures for win and place be available for record on the totalisator prior to selling commencing on each race. Consequently, off-course bets for win and place must be lodged at a branch or an agency not later than 90 minutes before the advertised starting time of the race concerned. Double bets must be placed not later than two hours before the advertised time of the first leg of the double. Agencies and branches are allowed 18 minutes for collation purposes for win and place betting and 25 minutes for the first leg of the double. All transmissions of figures are carried out per medium of the telephone system.
The operations of the Totalisator Agency Board over the years have met with a minimum of criticism and there is little doubt as to the effectiveness of the scheme itself. It has satisfied a long-felt want so far as the off-course investors are concerned and has been responsible for the huge reduction in the volume of illegal bookmaking in New Zealand.
The scheme has attracted world-wide interest and several overseas countries have adopted the system either in part or as a whole.
by William Mouat Bolt, Executive Officer, Gaming Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.