Australia proves wider gambling reach and better betting game make the pie bigger

Betting in 2021 continued to show strong growth and North America
running can learn something from it.

by Dean Towers

In 2008 Australian racing was facing change. New technologies and betting exchanges were allowed, and sports betting was beyond its nascent stage with corporate bookmakers. The business was opening.

For some in the industry, these new opportunities and increased competition meant the sky was falling and it had to be stopped at all costs.

The manager of Racing New South Wales at the time said: “This is the biggest problem the racing industry has ever had. We don’t get paid to put on the show, and that means all of our 50,000 attendees will lose. »

Can’t really blame him, can you? New ways to
betting (including many with low withdrawal rates like betting exchanges), sports betting and a virtual destruction of the TAB horse racing monopoly could not be a positive development.

A funny thing, though – exactly the opposite happened.

FROM 2011 TO 2021:

Thoroughbred racing revenue increased from (all figures, AUS$) $14.3 billion to $29.1 billion

Greyhound Harness and Handle went from $6.1 billion to $14.3 billion

Sports betting – which one would assume would cannibalize horse racing if successful – rose from $3.2 billion to $16.6 billion

Yes, all bets are off.

The argument that increasing the handle but withdrawing less of a bet (reducing the takeout) and allowing those outside the industry to offer bets would reduce the exchanges, certainly did not carry neither does its fruit.


The number of races and race meets, unlike here in North America, has not decreased. They held on. Foal harvests are down compared to 2011, but they too have stabilized in recent years.

What is quite remarkable is that over the last 10 years, in Australia, like in North America, horse racing is less popular than it was with gamblers. According to Gambling research in Australiathe number of people who bet on horse racing last year was down more than 20% from 2011. Dr Alex Russell, co-author of the report, noted that fewer people are betting, however, those who bet, “bet a ton, driven by more and more online gambling.

This is a very important fact, and you are undoubtedly bored to see me typing: the existing base of bettors is pre-qualified to practice this sport; they have disposable income, they have ADW accounts where they are captured. If we increase their churn rates with low withdrawals, incentives, better ways to bet, and better education to get them to bet more, they will.

These people are the lifeblood of the sport and it is essential to maximize their mastery. Purses, more races and better foal harvests are the result of these efforts.

Here in North America, the sport, in my opinion, thinks way too much like Australia in 2008. It plays scared. He fears entering a world of betting exchanges (they were tried here, at 12% withdrawal, which defeats their purpose); he rarely adopts or invests in anything new that can help a client; if bettors are winning more with less juice, they seem to fervently believe the industry is losing.

All is not rosy Down Under. The sport is even less popular than it once was. Harness racing has its problems and the sport in general has problems like everywhere else. But one thing they proved beyond doubt: if you don’t fear the future, you can be part of it. And the future is not so bad.

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