The Australian Football League (AFL) has instituted new rules to clamp down on its players’ betting habits. Under new guidelines issued this week, the anti-gambling provisions of Rule 32 have been extended to prohibit AFL players betting “on all Australian football competitions, not just the AFL competition.”
The rule is intended to prevent players from trading on inside knowledge, as is a new restriction on the maximum number of mobile phones (10) that can be used on match day in “designated risk zones” such as the players’ locker room. Clubs will also have to submit a mandatory guest list covering all locker room visitors the day before any match. The new rules also seek to prevent ‘tanking’ by requiring all players and coaches to “at all times perform on their merits.”
TABCORP’S LACKLUSTER H1
Any decrease in the number of active punters won’t sit well with Australian bookmakers Tabcorp Holdings Ltd., which saw wagering revenue decline in the six months ending Dec. 31. Tabcorp’s overall revenue and earnings each rose 1% to $1.045b and $162m respectively in H1 2014, despite wagering revenue falling 0.7% to $809.2m and wagering earnings falling 3.8% to $87.8m. The wagering decline reflects the new 50/50 joint venture split with the Victorian Racing Industry rather than the 75/25 split Tabcorp previously enjoyed. Wagering slippage aside, Tabcorp’s H1 profits managed to nudge up 2.3% to $74.6m.
Fixed-odds horseracing revenue rose 38% while sports rose 5%. Overall fixed-odds betting revenue rose 24.3% to $243.2m, offsetting a 5.1% decline in totalizator revenue to $680.3m. Retail turnover was down 2.5% to $1.99b in New South Wales and down 7.1% to $1.46b in Victoria. Things were brighter online, where turnover rose 15.6% to $1.45b thanks mainly to mobile growth. Tabcorp’s Northern Territory-licensed online subsidiary Luxbet reported turnover up 5.5% to $354.1m, a far cry from the 25.9% growth in the corresponding period last year, but revenue still managed to rise 1.5% to $19.9m. Digital wagering continued to eat into Tabcorp’s phone betting operations, which saw turnover slip 18% to $326.6m.
Mobile wagering accounted for 51% of online turnover, up from 28% in H1 2013, which Tabcorp credited to “continued investments” such as the deal it inked with telecom firm Telstra last July. In October, Tabcorp released an HTML racing-only tablet product, with a sports version due in H2. Tabcorp is also awaiting regulatory approval to launch its ‘Early Quaddie’ product this year.
Tabcorp Gaming Solutions (TGS), which manages machine gaming operations for licensed gaming venues, reported revenue up 32% to $49.9m. The reporting period saw TGS secure the necessary approvals to take its business into NSW and has already signed up its first venue in the state. Tabcorp’s Keno lottery business reported a 2% decline in revenue to $104.4m thanks to five $1m-plus jackpot winners in Queensland (compared to just two a year ago). Tabcorp’s Media & International business grew revenue 8.3% to $109.9m thanks to international co-mingling rights.
Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough claimed not to be bothered by the tote decline, saying punters are just transferring their loyalties to the company’s digital options. Attenborough called the fixed-odds shift “natural” and “you don’t tell the customer what they need to bet on.” Besides, margins are better in fixed-odds wagering. As for Luxbet’s turnover slowdown, Attenborough said the trading team had been “very focused” on managing risk, which meant “you do end up not always being the best price out there on certain things.”