Tabcorp is planning to merge its three existing Australian totes into a single, national pool by the end of 2020.
The move is designed to combat the continual rise of corporate online bookmakers and their fixed-odds betting products by creating deeper payout pools for traditional parimutuel wagering.
According to Tabcorp chief executive David Attenborough, unified tote betting will create “better depth and less volatility” in horse racing markets all over the country.
Advocates of the single-tote system also believe combining the pools will provide a shot in the arm to greyhounds, trots and country racing.
The migration of punters to online bookies and sports betting in recent years has had a significant on Australia’s racing industry, which thrives on the higher turnover derived from parimutuel betting.
Racing Victoria takes more than nine per cent of every dollar wagered on the tote, while Racing NSW claims around seven per cent.
Those two bodies are instrumental to Tabcorp’s plans, as a national tote cannot exist unless Australia’s racing regulators jump on board.
“A national pool would provide deeper, more liquid betting products for customers,” a Tabcorp spokesperson said on Monday.
“This would strengthen the competitiveness of the tote to address the national decline in pari-mutuel betting, which in turn would enhance the long-term sustainability of racing industry funding.
“Combined pooling requires agreement from a range of stakeholders. We are committed to working through the process with all parties.”
There are several roadblocks to clear before Tabcorp can launch a national tote pool.
The company is still developing the technology and protocols required to combine the three existing pools in New South Wales, Victoria (which also services ACT and WA), and the coalition of Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
The new system will also require conformity, which means bringing Queensland’s unique bet types into line with the rest of the country.
Racing Victoria officials have acknowledged that the project cannot succeed without a co-operative effort from all state racing bodies for thoroughbreds, trots and greyhounds.
“Anything which has the potential to strengthen the competitiveness of the tote is generally in the interests of the industry, particularly given that pari-mutuel wagering currently provides a significant proportion of the value that we receive from our relationship with Tabcorp which of course helps to ensure the long-term funding and sustainability of the industry,” an RV spokesperson said.
“We would be supportive of a national tote pool if it is clearly in the best interests of Victorian racing. This would need to take into account the commercial outcomes for Victorian racing, as well as the implications for customers. The Victorian racing industry currently has a commercial interest in SuperTab and other co-mingling arrangements.
“A national tote pool could provide benefits to customers in the form of greater liquidity and potentially enhanced product offerings, although we do note that there are a number of legal and operational challenges that would need to be resolved before it became a reality, not to mention the necessary approvals from multiple stakeholders.”
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