Australian Gambling Companies at Odds Over Horse Race Funding

Published Sunday, April 11, 2010 - Online-Casinos.com

The face of gambling is changing rapidly in Australia as a new generation comes into focus and gambling venues vie for a piece of the action from the next wave of gaming enthusiasts. There is the constant competition between traditional forms of gambling such as horse racing and pokies and the new vogue activities such as poker and casino play. It has been estimated that Australians spend $18.2 billion a year on gambling, $11.4 billion of which is on poker machines, and $2.5 billion on racing, with $172 million bet on various sports. Sports betting is showing the greatest expansion with most other gambling activities being the same over the past twenty years. Elmer Funke Kupper, managing director, for Tabcorp which employs about 11,000 people, commented on the gambling state of affairs in Australia, ''The next generation of customers is quite different from our traditional customer base,'' adding, ''They are much more tech savvy, more impatient, and they wager, more as a part of a social interaction.'' The radical changes to gambling being brought on by the online gambling industry and the changing demographic has lead to many questions as to whether or not the horse racing sector will continue to survive and be supported. Numbers are declining and interest is dropping as more popularised forms of gambling eclipse the horse racing venue. Two conferences, the inaugural Australian Racing Conference and the Asian Racing Conference, are being held to answer the questions plaguing racing mostly who will fund the industry. Legal disputes over funding models for the state-based racing bodies have erupted recently with the Productivity Commission producing a draft report, recommending a national approach to funding. Betfair the betting exchange is waiting on a decision from the Federal Court, that will determine if Betfair must pay Racing New South Wales 1.5 per cent of its turnover, which Betfair argues is 60 per cent of its revenue. Andrew Twaits, chief executive officer at Betfair, said, while funding models are determined, racing is at risk of becoming a ''niche gambling product''. Adding, ''I think that unless racing focuses on trying to reclaim its mainstream status in society, then that's a very real risk,''

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