Racing gets boost from punters stuck at home

Punters have turned to racing as a way to circumvent the coronavirus lockdown, with turnover figures across the three codes of Queensland racing up $13.7 million in the first week of Australia’s shutdown.

Using last week as a guide, the lucrative turnover amount on Queensland product is up 21 per cent compared to the corresponding week last year.

Turnover on thoroughbreds was up 19 per cent, greyhounds 15 per cent and harness, helped by abandonments of thoroughbred meetings last Thursday, up 49 per cent.

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Turnover on the three codes of racing in Queensland is up since Australia’s COVID-19 shutdown. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

Showing the shutdown of TAB retail outlets is having no material effect on volume wagered at this point, the Saturday metropolitan meeting turned over $19.5 million, which was still up on last year despite one less race being run.

“Times are tough with pubs and clubs shut across Queensland, but with no other sports product to wager on, the Queensland racing industry is proving to be resilient,” Racing Queensland chief executive Brendan Parnell said.

“A number of our wagering partners have told us that active customer numbers are growing, but interestingly, average bet sizes are down.”

But while turnover figures are on the rise, there’s still cause for concern, as the closing down of Tabcorp’s retail outlets will almost certainly have a detrimental effect on revenue returns.

Every dollar spent with Tabcorp’s Queensland agencies is worth about two and a half-to-three times more to Racing Queensland as a dollar spent with a corporate bookmaker.

Parnell said revenue returns to the industry had not yet been affected.

“With TAB’s retail outlets shutdown, their market share has been impacted, but for the time being, it is being offset through those wagering via interstate TABs and corporate bookmakers,” he said.

Queensland punters might not be able to attend the races or go to a pubTAB, but they are still enjoying a flutter during the shutdown amid the coronavirus crisis. Picture: Liam KidstonSource:News Corp Australia

The Victorian racing industry is structured differently in that it has a joint venture with Tabcorp.

RVL chief executive Giles Thompson has forecast the current situation will reduce revenue for the industry.

With the closure of most sporting codes around the world it has significantly reduced Tabcorp’s earning capacity and Thompson says the Victorian industry has to take a hit as a result.

Thompson told Melbourne’s RSN that “turnover is pretty volatile at the moment” but holding up “OK”.

“Early on in this period, we were quite soft. That has improved in the (past) 10 days,” he said. “Saturday (was) OK it’s not special, but it’s OK. It’s marginally up on what we expected before the virus hit.

“The challenge for us is revenue that we get from joint venture. The joint venture gets its money from the whole suite of products, most of which have now been turned off.”

Originally published asRacing gets boost from punters stuck at home

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