Horse racing in Australia thrives during the pandemic as Australian bettors shift their preferences to the online segment.
Mobile Horse Betting Handle Grows in Australia
Racing turnover continues to shift online as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced retail venues to shut down, impacting TAB, one of Australia’s leading sports and racebook. An estimated 86.5% of all Victorian handle is now going through mobile devices, signaling a complete shift in the paradigm.
Despite the lack of events in traditional sports, between August 2020 and January 2021, a total of AU$5 billion was wagered on horse races, up 32.5% from the first half of the season when the pandemic had reached its nadir and had authorities struggling with a suitable way to handle it.
That has allowed consumers to shift their behavior online, with mobile gambling going up 74.9% year-over-year and retail spending dropping to just 13.5%. Tote betting slowed down amid a strong shift towards fixed betting, which is becoming increasingly popular in horse races and bringing them closer to traditional sports betting products.
According to Racing Victoria, fixed-odds match betting was up by 47.3% in the first half of the season for a total of AU$4.16 billion. The operator is optimistic that it will still eke out a profit as pent-up demand for wagering and proper budgeting have allowed it to stay competitive.
Records despite the Pandemic
The Melbourne Cup drove record-handle with AU$221.6 million wagered across the country. There was a notable increase in the number of promotions, such as free bets, in a bid to capture a bigger betting audience and counterweigh illegal gambling, which Australia is fighting tooth-and-nail against.
The record handle in horse betting handle is understandable when considering the fact that when global sports were suspended in March 2020, there were only a few options left to bet on, including table tennis and Belarusian soccer, for example.
Mainstream sports bettors shifted their interest to either electronic sports or horse racing, which is familiar and regulated. Horse racing was exempt from immediate shutdowns. As Victoria has seen strong demand for horse races, the number of racehorse owners has increased to 60,637 from previously 58,190 over the past year.
As Tabcorp still finds itself challenged by the most recent dip in operations due to the lack of events, the company is still standing its ground, and most recently turned down a $3 billion bid by Entain.