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26/12/2003 edition

TAB Takeover Battle
Betting Exchanges

A balanced perspective

It was refreshing to read Terry McCrann's views about Betting Exchanges and of the UniTab/SuperTab takeover battle for TAB Ltd. in the finance section of The Sunday Telegraph, December 21, 2003.

As Terry McCrann is a business analyst it was quite different to what we've been fed by the racing media journalists and TABs.

Terry McCrann wrote:

"One thing is crystal clear: when this smoke clears, we will be down to just two wagering pools across Australia and the die will be irrevocably cast to move quickly to a single pool."

The racing media has told us that there will be huge benefits to punters from bigger betting pools.

Terry McCrann wrote about that:

"For the average punter the reduction of pools to two and then one will mean no change..." Hear! Hear! Maybe Terry McCrann is not familiar with some Darwin based betting options based upon beating the best tote odds. Unless those welcome initiatives are altered, with just two and then just one tote pool many punters will be worse off.

Now where does the ACCC (Australia's competition watchdog) stand in all this?

Terry McCrann wrote:

"...trust-buster ACCC has given its approval for either party to take TAB. In doing so it has effectively approved the merger of all three because approving a Tabcorp-TAB entity shows it accepts that a sole player could emerge with UniTab ultimately just ceasing to be.."

That means if UniTab just stopped operating on horse racing for whatever reason then there would be just one tote pool.

But why would the ACCC approve just one tote pool? Wouldn't that be non-competitive? Not according to Terry McCrann.

His interpretation is the ACCC believes tote wagering on horses is only a small part of the gambling dollar and that there is plenty of "competition". Terry McCrann also wrote that the ACCC implicitly accepts that the "TABs are going to face competition from betting exchanges."

He also added:

"The TABs want them banned. But that's a fruitless hope. Their first best strategy is to make themselves competitive with a national pool and management that understands both the business and challenges."

Quite different, isn't it, compared to some of the scare mongering about the questionable safety of your money should you use betting exchanges and the Big Brother threat that to do so is breaking the law? Quite different, isn't it, compared to media rumour mongering that betting exchanges are about to be banned?

With the competition between tote, bookmakers and betting exchanges, horse racing bettors have never had it so good. No longer will racing be a bettting pursuit where only 1% of bettors can expect to win long term. That percentage should now be multiplied many times over.

It will only get better as state governments move with the times, remove anti-competitive restrictions and more bookmakers operate live online betting markets.

This edition of Punt to Win:
TAB takeover battle/betting exchanges
Betting favourites in small fields
Money talks - Randwick, Flemington betting tips from the track
Handicapping tips - weight and class
Future winners - unlucky horses
Punt to Win 19/12/2003
Punt to Win index

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