Aussie gambling powerhouse Tabcorp saw net revenues rise 5.4% to AU $1.06b in the three months ending March 31. All three business divisions were in the black, with casinos up 5.9%, wagering up 2.6% (despite the negative effects of the recent inclement weather) and gaming up 8.6%. For the first nine months of their financial year, Tabcorp has seen revenues rise 3.9% to $3.32b.
The positive results didn’t stop Tabcorp CEO Elmer Funke Kupper from grousing about having to ante up higher fees to state racing bodies than certain unnamed competitors. (Betfair and Sportsbet are currently appealing a Federal Court decision over the product fee model imposed by Racing NSW.) Tabcorp claims to have paid around $600m last year in fees, but Kupper maintains that the issue is “not what we pay; the problem is what the other bookmakers don’t pay. Either we have to pay materially less – which is a problem, because it means there can’t be any racing because we pay for the prize money and so forth – or the bookmakers have to pay their fair share, and they’re not. I don’t think it’s right and I think it needs to be addressed.”
Far stronger accusations of impropriety are being generated in the country’s ongoing fight over video poker machine (pokies) reform. The man backing so-called pre-commitment technology, Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, claims he’s the victim of a coordinated “smear campaign” directed by the pokies industry, which Wilkie believes profits from “human misery.” According to Wilkie, this smear campaign has included threats to expose “compromising photos” (the content of which has remained tantalizingly undefined) and even a death threat.
The pokie industry has rejected Wilkie’s allegations of a smear campaign. Indeed, industry members and Liberal MPs have urged Wilkie to file a report of this supposed death threat with the police. Clubs Australia boss Anthony Ball called such suggestions “offensive to me and my organization,” remarking that “Wilkie is the one who lobbed the hand grenade, not me.”
Speaking of explosive devices, the latest twist in this story involves claims made in the Herald Sun newspaper that in 1983, when Wilkie was a senior cadet at Duntroon Military College, he ordered junior cadets to give the Nazi salute in honor of the 50th anniversary of Adolf Hitler being named Chancellor of Germany. For his part, Wilkie claims he “honestly cannot remember” the incident, but admitted that Duntroon was “an insane place” where “insane things will happen.” Helpfully, Wilkie volunteered that he’d “never sexually assaulted anyone.” So, to sum up, I’m not a rapist, and don’t mention the war.