Losses risk future of dog tracks

The continued viability of Irish greyhound tracks has been further undermined by newly filed accounts which show operating losses at the publicly owned courses rose by 52% in a year.

Accounts for eight tracks that are 100% owned by the Irish Greyhound Board show that their combined operating losses were just under €1.1m. The comparative figure in 2011 was €718,350.

This was driven by a 9% drop in turnover to €50.6m.

Only one track, Shelbourne Park, turned a profit but this amount (€105,604) was 7% lower than a year earlier.

The biggest loser was the controversial new Limerick track which was opened in 2010 at a cost of more than €23m.

Its development is currently under investigation by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee after the debts associated with its construction put the group’s survival in jeopardy.

The Limerick track lost €359,158, before tax and depreciation charges, in 2012. This compounded losses of €164,496 which it made in 2011 during its first full year of operation.

The budget for the Limerick track was approved in Apr 2009 on the assumption that in the second full year of operation (2012) it would significantly reverse the drain caused by the old Market’s Field.

A cost benefit analysis said the new facility would deliver a profit of €280,000 in its second year.

This 2009 projection was based on the performance of the Cork facility at Curraheen.

The accounts for Cork show that in 2012 it, along with Harold’s Cross, saw its operating losses double. Youghal lost just under €100,000 and Waterford’s position improved slightly but it was still in the red by €150,776.

The track figures do not include the betting income from the tote, which is recorded in the group accounts. These have not been published. However, the IGB has released information elsewhere that shows this also fell in 2012.

The group’s accounts for 2011 noted that the company would continue to trade as a going concern on the assumption that government support would not diminish and track and tote turnover would increase.


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