Tatts Group acquires TOTE Tasmania; Aussie Racing Board releases factbook

tatts-group-tote-tasmaniaVictorian gambling outfit Tatts Group has acquired the state-owned TOTE Tasmania for AU $103m (€78.2m). In a statement released to the Australian Stock Exchange, Tatts said TOTE “will become part of the TattsBet pooling and fixed-price wagering systems which currently operate in Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia.” Tatts will fund the acquisition from existing loan facilities and that old 20th century standby, cash. Tatts expects Tote, which notched $260m in turnover in 2011, to contribute over $13m in EBITDA in fiscal 2013. Tote holds a 50-year Tasmanian race wagering license, with an option for an additional 49 years.

Assuming the deal meets with the approval of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the sale is expected to be finalized by the end of March. Under the terms of the deal, the government will continue to receive GST refunds amounting to $15.4m up front with a possible $43.6m to follow. While Premier Lara Giddings claims to have been pleasantly surprised by the price – double what she claims she expected – shadow treasurer Peter Gutwein says the price is only “two thirds of the value that respected analysts suggested it was worth” and that the “panicked Premier” is “effectively giving away assets.” In that case, would you take a fiver for Parliament House?

The Australian Racing Board released the 13th edition of the Australian Racing Factbook, which claims the 2010-2011 season’s 18,888 races generated $14.3b in turnover, off about $10m from the previous year and $45m less than in 2008-2009. Racing NSW boss Peter V’Landys fingered sports betting as the culprit. “Twenty years ago it was all thoroughbred racing; now punters have a menu” of betting options. Sports betting has gone from $880m in 2000-2001 to $3.3b just ten years later. Fixed odds betting is also on the rise, going from $75m to $274m over the past year. Tabcorp’s Nicholas Tzaferis told the Daily Telegraph that this increasing preference for fixed odds – and a rise in online wagering – continues to have a negative effect on tote turnover.

A study of Victorian gamblers (as in, gamblers from the Australian state of Victoria, not from the era of Queen Victoria) by researchers at Monash University claims that Victorian men – younger men, in particular – feel “bombarded” and “pressured” by sports betting advertising. Women and older men, however, reported feeling better able to resist the marketers’ strategies. Dr. Samantha Thomas claimed that the promotion of gambling during sporting events was convincing younger men that it was (shock!) “normal to engage in betting” while older men claimed such promotion was ruining their enjoyment of sports. After which, Victoria’s grumpy old men shook their canes, told the researchers to get off their damn lawn, then soiled themselves.