RITA Chief Steps Down After 5 Years

Tia Winter | 19 September 2019

It’s been five years with John Allen at the head of RITA (Racing Industry Transition Agency) in New Zealand. His tenure will come to an end this year as he has announced that he is stepping down as chief executive of the organisation. Allen has confirmed that he will stay on until the end of 2019 in order to assist with the transition period of bringing on a new chief executive.

RITA used to be the New Zealand Racing Board, but the organisation changed title in July this year as part of some of the many changes that have occurred within the organisation and to racing and sports betting reforms within the country. RITA’s main responsibilities lie in the racing sector and the organisation manages the TAB, the only legal wagering operation in New Zealand.

Allen’s Time At The Top

Over the five years that John Allen has been in charge of the organisation now known as RITA, he has seen and been responsible for numerous changes. The organisation has put several major investment programmes into place that are now set and should all be completed in the foreseeable future. Allen stated that these have created a good foundation for the organisation, and will allow it to grow products and profits for the racing industry.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing though. Allen has been criticised for being too modest in the handling of the TAB, which has led to the operator seeing a decrease in net profits. In April this year, the operator registered a dip of 3.5% for the first half of the year when compared to the same period in 2018. However, the TAB has been through some significant changes with the relaunch of two sports betting partners: OpenBet and Paddy Power Betfair.

Focusing On RITA’s Future

In his statement regarding his resignation, Allen commented that it was a hard choice to make but he does feel that the future of RITA is looking good. He went on to say that it was now time for someone else to lead the organisation into the final phase of the new racing reforms.

The New Zealand government has been making waves with their betting and industry reforms in an effort to bring the horse racing sector back to life. It’s important for RITA to support these changes and do what they can to keep the industry moving forward. Allen stated that the new chief executive will have what they need in place to ensure that the TAB continues to grow its revenue and that the racing industry becomes sustainable in the country.