Racing Victoria offers bookies rebates on high-roller turnover, buys

australia-racing-victoria-new-zealand-tabNew Zealand’s Labour party has promised to crack down on international online gambling operators if it wins next month’s general election. Labour’s Racing spokesperson Ross Robertson said “around $300m-$400m of Kiwi money is placed on overseas sports betting sites” that are not subject to local taxation. This was not only cutting into the revenue of the local TAB betting agency but also “starves this country’s racing industry of funds.”

Robertson cited the example set by the UK government, which will require all UK-facing operators to hold a UK-issued gambling license as well as imposing a 15% point-of-consumption tax on all online wagers placed by UK punters. Labour is promising to bring together industry stakeholders “to review wider gambling regulation” that would “safeguard the position of the NZ Racing Board” as the exclusive holder of racing and sports betting rights. Robertson estimates the government’s share of this tax grab would increase by $20m/year.

Similar ‘stop drinking my milkshake’ complaints are being made in the Australian state of Victoria, where Racing Victoria (RV) is launching an incentive scheme intended to encourage locally licensed bookmakers to accept more wagers from professional bettors. To prevent these high-rollers from taking their action to international online betting sites, RV is offering a one-percent rebate on turnover from approved high-volume, low-margin (HVLM) bettors whose racing turnover in Victoria tops $500k/year but whose margin to bookies is under four percent. Such bettors are believed to account for 8% of total domestic wagering on Victorian racing.

RV has agreed to backdate the trial program to July 1, 2014 and run it through the rest of the year. RV chief commercial and strategy officer Andrew Caterall said HVLM punters were “most susceptible” to taking their action international and with no legislation preventing this shift, the new incentive program “will enable [bookies] to grow this segment of the market” as well as providing “a positive increase in net revenue to the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry.”

Racing Vic is also in the news for having purchased the domain from a US-based firm for an undisclosed fee. Caterall said there would a mid-September launch of a new “non-geographic specific brand” that would help attract “more of an international audience.” The new entity will be co-owned by Racing Vic and four racing clubs – Victoria Racing Club, Melbourne Racing Club, Moonee Valley Racing Club and Country Racing Victoria. The site will feature an in-house editorial team and race stats courtesy of Racing Information Services Australia. Talks are being held with betting firm Tabcorp about supplying live betting odds to the website.