Veteran South Australian racehorse trainer Leon Macdonald has sent warnings of dire consequences to the WA Government if it decides to sell the TAB.
As WA racing officials forged a united front yesterday at Belmont Park, calling on the Government to include them in negotiations on any proposed sale of the valuable utility, Mr Macdonald painted a bleak picture of the fallout from a similar sell-off in the State where he has plied his trade for the past 45 years.
"I'd be saying, 'Just don't do it'," the Caulfield Cup and Victoria Derby-winning trainer said.
Mr Macdonald said the 2001 sale of the SA TAB for $43.5 million to what was then known as TAB Queensland, had been devastating for the SA industry. TAB sales in Queensland and Tasmania have also caused industry heartache.
"It was detrimental to SA racing, all the profits went to Queensland and it stagnated our prize money." he said.
"I said to my accountant the other day that I thought there would only be a handful of trainers making a living out of the game here now and he said I was wrong - it was only four."
WA Racehorse Trainers Association president Michael Grant told yesterday's meeting that the WA industry was geographically the world's biggest racing jurisdiction and contributed more than $590 million a year to the local economy.
Perth Racing chairman Ted van Heemst said he supported an investigation into selling the TAB but said there was a current information gap which had left the industry "dealing in the dark".
He accused the Government of ignoring a strong contributor to its annual coffers.
Shadow racing and gaming minister Mick Murray said selling the TAB would be akin to killing the goose that is laying the WA racing industry's golden eggs.