BUSINESS

Online betting rise mitigates Tabcorp’s retail decline; CMO Michael Smith leaves

TAGs: Australia, Tabcorp

tabcorp-retail-betting-declineAustralian betting operator Tabcorp says its online operations were the belle of an otherwise unexceptional fiscal Q1 ball.

In a fiscal Q1 trading update covering the three months ending Sept. 30, Tabcorp’s wagering revenue rose 3.2% to A$3.1b despite its mainstay retail wagering numbers falling 0.4% to $1.64b. That decline was mitigated by the digital division, which reported turnover up 13.1% to $900m.

Tabcorp’s group revenue rose 1.1% to $543.5m in the quarter, with wagering revenue up 0.7% to $461.3m. Racing revenue was up 4.7%, although tote revenue fell 1.9% to $296m, partially offset by good gains in fixed odds revenue, which rose more than one-quarter to $119.3m.

The same period last year featured the second half of the FIFA World Cup and also boasted a better than average hold percentage, which combined to push this quarter’s sports betting revenue down 21% to $53m. The Northern Territory-licensed Luxbet online betting brand didn’t fare as well as Tabcorp’s main digital offering, with turnover falling 1.7% to $172m and revenue slipping 26.6% to $10.5m. Revenue from the Trackside virtual racing product improved 7.8% to $26.4m.

As for the other irons in Tabcorp’s fire, keno revenue was up 2.8% to $55.8m while gaming services rose 5.2% to $26.4m.

Tabcorp chairman Paula Dwyer used this week’s annual general meeting to renew the company’s longstanding complaints about international online betting operators taking money out of Tabcorp’s pockets. Australia’s federal government is currently conducting a review of its 2001 Interactive Gambling Act with an eye toward finding ways to boost Aussie-licensed operator profits by cutting off access to their international competitors.

Dwyer also called for harmonization of advertising laws among Australia’s states and territories. Dwyer suggested that there were already too many gambling ads on Aussie television, noting that wagering ad spending had risen 34% last year to $89m.

Ironically, this week saw Tabcorp’s chief marketing officer Michael Smith hand in his resignation after just 10 months on the job, telling Mumbrella that he and Tabcorp had “not been the right fit.” Claire Murphy, Tabcorp’s GM of keno and gaming, will assume Smith’s former duties until a permanent replacement can be found. Smith’s exit comes just as Tabcorp is bracing for next week’s Melbourne Cup, one of its busiest betting days of the year, but a Tabcorp spokesman said the company’s marketing wouldn’t be affected by the changeup.

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