The significant contribution made by the greyhound racing industry to the Irish exchequer and rural employment is highlighted in a new report published at Shelbourne Park, Dublin, today by Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI).
The report, compiled by consultant economist Jim Power, 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 report also contains details on the care and welfare initiatives progressed by GRI during the past two years, including 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. 3,995 greyhounds also have been rehomed (2019 - 974; 2020 - 1,775; 2021 to 30 June - 1,246) with the support of GRI and the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust.
Frank Nyhan, Chairman of Greyhound Racing Ireland, commented, “The greyhound industry is going through a very challenging period, but the economic, financial, and employment contribution remains significant.”
“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,” added Mr. Nyhan. “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.”
Mr. Nyhan says COVID-19 has represented a significant challenge for the industry, but as restrictions are eased, activity levels are expected to recover.
“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,” he explained.
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%).
Gerard Dollard, CEO of Greyhound Racing Ireland, says government support for the sector is “very important”, and in the absence of such support, there would be “considerable implications” for rural employment and economic activity.
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,” explained Mr. Dollard.
Highlights from the Greyhound Racing Ireland report: