As the 2019-20 financial year ends, I would like to take this opportunity to update you all on how our sport has been travelling over the past 12 months. Despite the impact of COVID-19, bushfires and canine gastro we managed to deliver nearly all of our scheduled racing calendar and our wagering performance has also held up well while we’ve also attracted many new customers which we are working to retain.
And, as you may have noticed, GRV managed to really step up its marketing and race coverage activities over the year. One exciting development here has been a partnership with Sky Racing and TAB to broadcast greyhound racing to new markets in the USA and Europe as the Greyhound Channel via skyracingworld.com and online wagering companies. This is an unprecedented opportunity for Victorian greyhound racing to open up a massive new wagering audience which will help us work through COVID-19, increase returns to participants and position our sport for an exciting new future. The initial focus is on America where one Australian greyhound meeting a day, with separate USA Tote pools, is screened live into the USA, which started with the Shepparton meeting on June 15. The plan is to increase the number of Victorian meetings on US screens and to start co-mingling wagering pools following regulatory approvals.
And while data and statistics for 2019-20 won’t be fully compiled until July, and published in our annual report in the last quarter of this year, it is already clear we have made very significant progress on reducing overall euthanasia numbers and track fatalities.
These strong outcomes are very much due to how the clubs, GCV, participants, GOTBA and GRV have all worked together and I’d like to thank you all for what we have managed to achieve in very difficult times. I am confident that the sport is now well positioned to deliver some great outcomes in 2020-21.
Looking ahead, GRV’s main priorities for this coming year will be to expand our commercial opportunities and grow our wagering revenue.
This will involve expanding our race program that will provide more opportunities to greyhounds at all levels and expand what we can offer to wagering providers, and in doing so, increase returns to participants.
GRV will also continue to focus on greyhound welfare, particularly through our safe racing program. For the 2020-21 season, GRV has 1194 meetings programmed and we are aiming to hold a minimum of at least 23 meetings per week with an anticipated target of 26 per week and we are already delivering 25 weekly meetings. Greyhound Clubs Australia has released its Group Racing Calendar for the 2020/2021 racing season and while some feature events have already been cancelled, such as the Nationals and Straight Track Championships, GRV will be holding a number of other events to compensate for these losses.
Finally, I would like to say that this has been one of the most complex working years of my career, both on a professional and personal level, and I am sure many of you feel the same. None of us could have seen this coming and yet you have all risen to the challenge. And I would once again like to thank you all for working together to earn the privilege of keeping our sport on track at a time where so many other activities have been limited. I look forward to this spirit continuing in the coming year as we build on the many achievements of 2019-20.