Australia: horse racing popularity down but betting turnover is rising

Turnover increased from AU$22.9bn in 2010-11 to AU$26.9bn in 2019.
Turnover increased from AU$22.9bn in 2010-11 to AU$26.9bn in 2019.

Despite a drop in the number of people interested in gambling on horse races, those who do bet are spending more.

Australia.- It seems the golden days of the races have passed, and yet horse racing betting revenue continues to grow. According to Gambling Research Australia, the number of Australians who gambled on horse races declined to 16.8 per cent last year, down from 22.4 per cent ten years earlier.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of spectators at the Melbourne Cup declined from 122,736 in 2003, to around 100,000 in 2010 and 81,408 in 2019. It’s speculated that the decrease in horse racing’s popularity may be related to questions about animal rights.

However, despite the decrease in popularity, turnover increased from AU$22.9bn in 2010-2011 to AU$26.9bn in 2018-2019.

Dr Alex Russell, CQUniversity senior postdoctoral fellow in the experimental gambling research laboratory, and co-author of the report told The Guardian those who are still betting “are betting a tonne, driven by more and more online gambling.”

Australia’s Victoria Cup sets new turnover record

The Victoria Cup is expected to have set a new record in turnover this year, despite the race being moved from Melton to Bendigo due to Melbourne’s Covid-19 countermeasures. This event is expected to have generated AU $9.1m (US$6.7m), 14.5 per cent more than the record-setting 2018 Inter Dominion Grand Final night (ID18) at Melton.

Across the two evenings, turnover topped AU$15.9m, compared with AU$9.85m last year – an increment of over 61.4 per cent. 

Dayle Brown, Harness Racing Victoria CEO, told Race Net: “It’s a huge result. ID18 had stood alone for a long time for us, but this has smashed it.”

He added: “The figures are even more amazing when you consider we raced at Bendigo, not Melton. Historically, there’s always been higher turnover at Melton because it’s our major track, but we’ve done a lot to educate people about the great quality tracks we have at our regional centre.”

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