Australian TabCorp wants government help

TabCorp is pleading for immediate government intervention through tax cuts and increased protection for licensed tote operators in order to halt the slide of business towards its Northern Territory-based online rivals.

According to a piece in The Age newspaper, Tab took USD 36.5 million in bets on the main Melbourne Cup thoroughbred horse race last week, which was 10.3 more than on last year’s event. However, the owner and operator of the Tab for the state of Victoria revealed that this amount had been undermined by the equine influenza outbreak and was only 5.5 more than was wagered on the 2006 Melbourne Cup.

In addition, TabCorp revealed that it took in a total of USD 64.8 million over the day’s ten events, which was only 3.5 more than last year and 3.2 higher than in 2006.

The firm stated that last month’s relaxing of advertising regulations in Victoria and New South Wales that lifted a ban on the lower fee-paying Northern Territory operators’ advertising has triggered USD 20 million in gaming turnover shifting from the Tab, which will, in turn, cut royalty payments to the racing industry.

TabCorp is demanding an ‘immediate’ 3 % cut in the state’s wagering tax rate with similar annual breaks until 2012 alongside a ban on bookmakers offering tote odds as well as their own for races, uniform gaming operators fees across Australia and a national ban on introductory ‘free’ bets and credit betting.

“Not only do bookmakers now simply copy tote prices, they can give a better price as they operate from jurisdictions where taxes and racing industry contributions are minimal,” said Elmer Funke Kupper, CEO for TabCorp. “Basically, we’re making it up as we go, state by state, in what is a national industry. This cannot work.”