Figures obtained by the Sunday Telegraph point to information revealing that Australians are expected to invest $26 billion on race and sports betting this year. This includes events like horse racing, NRL and AFL matches, and other major sporting events all over the world. A big part of this uptick in wagering can be traced to the explosion of the digital era, which has given Australian bettors a more diverse range of betting mediums where they can place their bets. These days, Australians can bet using their laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. The convenience and accessibility of mobile betting has given rise to increased wagers and there doesn’t appear to be any signs of slowing down any time soon.
Consider this: TAB, considered as Australia’s largest online gambling company, told the Telegraph that 45% of the bets it takes from bettors happen outside of their retail outlets.
Better access to online gambling sites isn’t the only reason why betting turnover in the country has increased by 3% annually over the past five years. The increased exposure of sporting events has taken betting interest to new heights. This year, the Melbourne Cup is expected to generate $300 million in betting handle form gambling lifers and occasional bettors alike.
A significant uptick in betting money has also aided in the industry’s explosion in Australia. This year, Australians are expected to bet an average of $1,200 based on its entire population. That’s every head in the country, averaging four-figure betting amounts this year.
Granted, not every Australian is a bettor but those who do have also risked incredible sums of money on fixed-odds betting. One case in particular points to a man who reportedly put $2 million on Rafael Nadal to win a Round 2 match at the 2011 Australian Open. The odds at that time were 1.01, which meant that his $2 million bet only returned $20,000 in profit. Still, a lot of Australians aren’t sweating dropping as much as $200,000 on the aforementioned Melbourne Cup, hoping to secure a huge payday similar to a TAB bettor who scored $118,62 off of a $1 bet by accurately picking the first four finishers in a ‘first four bet’.
Horse racing and tennis are far from the only sports Australians bet on these days. The 2014 NRL Grand Final game between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury Bulldogs generated $15 million in betting handle. It’s still a distant number from the $119 million betting handle generated during Super Bowl XLVIII between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, but the arrow is pointing north as far as betting interest in the NRL is concerned.
Horse racing still accounts for a vast majority of the money being wagered by bettors at $22 billion, but sports betting’s continued ascent ensures that annual betting handle will continue to rise as well.
Despite the increased interest in horse racing and sports betting, Tabcorp chairman Paula Dwyer believes that the number could be much bigger if not for unregulated offshore betting shops getting their claws into the country’s gambling market. According to Dwyer, these illegal betting shops attract about 14% of the gambling dollar in the country.
“Because unlicensed offshore operators are not regulated to Australian standards, there are significant risks to consumers in terms of inadequate protection, as well as to the integrity of sport and racing,” Dwyer said. “Revenue that would otherwise be returned to the Australian racing industry, and our governments for investment into communities and social infrastructure, is instead going to unlicensed offshore operators.”
Dwyer believes that the country needs to address the issue by implementing similar efforts being done by European countries to prohibit unlicensed operators from taking bets on their residents.
“Tabcorp’s view is that a similarly powerful response is needed in Australia,” Dywer added.