The outlook is not rosy. Only two states had genuinely positive wagering trends last year and one of those is chancy. The others are going backwards or just holding the line. Even worse if you take inflation into account. Tote betting is on the decline all over, mostly in response to business diverted to Fixed Odds activity which, in turn, offers less rewarding commission to clubs and authorities.
Western Australian turnover jumped 10.0% in 2012/13, helped by a 3.9% increase in meetings.
Tasmania increased turnover by 6.9% but now has to negotiate the effect of a full year’s switch from Supertab to TattsBet. The resultant smaller Tatts pools can only encourage more punters to jump the border and keep using the Melbourne Tabcorp pools.
They are the good ones and both are relatively small racing states.
NSW barely maintained its TAB turnover level, even though it offered 1.9% more races to bet on. Non-TAB turnover has been a saver but future growth there is uncertain. Authorities have rung alarm bells about the future, mostly because of the squeeze caused by state commission splits which involve greyhounds subsidising the other two codes.
South Australia was down by 10% and will also be affected by the declining value of the small TattsBet pools.
Queensland is going nowhere, which means it effectively has to go backwards, given the lack of meaningful action by Racing Queensland to reverse the trends. It needs more of everything, especially good dogs. Wagering was down 9.0% and even then was kept afloat only by a strong rise in commission on Fixed Odds and other corporate bookmaker offerings. They now comprise over 30% of all Queensland betting.
So, what about everybody’s hero, Victoria? The short answer is flat as a tack at the moment. GRV has trumpeted about an 8% rise in income last year but that was done on a 7.5% increase in races. Since then, the state has had the benefit of a big jump in the proportion of race commissions allocated to greyhounds. That will help in the future but it cannot contribute twice to growth.
The national picture is therefore cloudy. Future prospects for any industry can brighten only when it is uncovering new customers or obtaining more business from existing ones. Neither appears likely at the moment, largely because the industry has made only spasmodic attempts to deal with the public (as was clear in the hearings for the recent NSW parliamentary Inquiry) or to mount serious marketing campaigns.
The overcrowded TAB calendar now shows quite clearly that the industry’s product supply has now exceeded the demand from the limited number of gamblers.
The only other measure that would improve greyhound’s position is the creation of a national betting pool, thereby offering customers something decent to bet into. Whether any racing authorities are working on that is unknown. Logically, it would be the task of the national authority but, unfortunately, Greyhounds Australasia does not delve into commercial matters. So, who will put their hands up? The need is urgent.
THE EVIDENCE CONTINUES
After Late Angel Lee’s paddling win over 710m at Albion Park last week I commented that “I would not be taking Late Angel Lee to the races for another couple of weeks at least”.
Oh dear, they took no notice. Seven days later the dog turned up again for its second crack at the trip. It was therefore no surprise to see it floundering by the time they got to the back straight and then give it away on the home turn. This time it ran 43.44, compared with its first-up win in 42.41 – a 15 lengths difference. As a $3.50 second favourite, it took a lot of punters’ money with it. It had no hope of beating Wag Tail’s very smart 41.77 anyway, but that was not the point. This is a highly talented galloper but it should never have raced the second time.
In a similar case, lining up for its third distance race in 16 days, Heaps of Ability failed badly over 725m at The Meadows on Saturday. It had led-all-the-way in its previous two, although the second of those was substantially slower than the first, but met smarter early competition this time. However, it came out poorly anyway and clearly lacked the punch to go on with it in the second half of the race.