The annual accounts 2019 representing the final set of accounts under the name Bord na gCon, (now Rásaíocht Con Éireann), have been published.  This follows on from the statutory audit undertaken by the Comptroller & Auditor General and the laying of the accounts before the Houses of the Oireachtas this week in accordance with established practice.

2019 could best be described as a year of two halves for the commercial semi state company with very significant progress being made in the early part of the year evident in increased attendances, increased racing and increases in commercial revenues.  The second half of the year proved much more challenging from a commercial perspective. 

Total turnover for the year was €45.01M including winnings paid on tote wagering of €11.73M.  Group operating surplus before interest, depreciation and taxation of €1.465M was generated in the year compared with a surplus of €1.86M in 2018.  Expenditure on prize money totalled €9.6M (up from €9.1M in 2018) in respect of 1,606 race meetings. 

The continued focus on cost reduction continued during 2019 with the operating costs of racing activities reducing by €315K.  Short-term payroll costs continued the downward trend evident in previous years with a further reduction of €229K in 2019.  This results in an overall payroll reduction of €1.17M since 2015.  Full-time staff employed by Rásíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) reduced from 132 no. in 2018 to 125 no. in 2019.

Overall attendance in 2019 was 462,709 patrons as compared to 506,142 patrons the previous year.  The continued evolvement of the racing product particularly with the introduction of early morning race meetings results in attendances no longer being the key measure of overall activity.

During 2019 there was a significant expansion of RCÉ’s Care & Welfare Programme with a wide range of new initiatives being put in place to support the greyhound community in delivering “best practice” in the care and welfare of the racing greyhound.  These initiatives included:

  • - The establishing of a dedicated care fund funded from the following sources:
    • 50% of all existing sponsorships.
    • 10% of admissions and restaurant packages.
    • 5% of net tote profits.
  • - Setting up of Confidential Care Line enabled the general public to report any care and welfare issues together with an intensifying of the inspection regime of greyhound establishments.
  • - Incentives for domestic re-homings and an extension of RCÉ’s Foster Care Scheme.
  • - An introduction of an Injuries at Track Recovery Scheme to provide funding for the treatment of greyhounds where career-ending injuries have occurred when racing or trialling at licenced stadia.
  • - Completion of an Expression of Interest procurement process for the provision of Greyhound Care Centres to help the transition of racing greyhounds from the track to retirement.
  • - The undertaking of a procurement process for the development of a traceability model to monitor and record key live events for all registered greyhounds throughout their lives. 

2019 also saw the enactment of the Greyhound Racing Act 2019 which was the subject of a commencement order by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD on 30th September 2020.

On the integrity front, a total of 5,702 samples were analysed by the National Greyhound Laboratory with 15 adverse analytical findings (0.26%) being identified.  All adverse analytical findings are published on the RCÉ website and are subject to adjudication by the independent Control Committee. 

Implementation of the infrastructure renewal plan, funded from the proceeds of the sale of Harold’s Cross Greyhound Stadium, continued during 2019.  Initiatives implemented include:

  • - A replacement hare driver and timing system rolled out at all licenced greyhound tracks at an overall cost of some €250K.
  • - An upgrade of CCTV infrastructure across all RCÉ tracks at an overall cost of €196K.
  • - A grant scheme for private tracks made available to each track for Health & Safety/welfare improvements with a total allocation of €250K being allocated to the scheme. 
  • - A significant upgraded track at Shelbourne Park which further improved the racing surface at RCÉ’s flagship venue.

The 2019 Annual Report is available to view here.