The past decade has seen a major decline in the importance of the old parimutuel wagering model which sustained Australian racing for much of the second half of the 20th century.
The value of the joint ventures which Tabcorp entered into with Principal Racing Authorities (PRAs) has diminished significantly as the corporate bookmaking sector has boomed.
The landmark 2012 race fields High Court case – in which Racing NSW was essentially granted the right to charge corporate bookmakers what it wanted for its product – ensured that revenue has continued to flow to the likes of Racing NSW and Racing Victoria, who have not only just been able to ‘keep the lights on’ but have also been able increase returns to owners significantly off greater ‘engagement’ through an energised and expanded wagering industry.
This week’s Racing Victoria annual report detailed exactly how much the landscape has changed. In 2012/2013, the Joint Venture returned $209 million to the Victorian industry, representing 72 per cent of the total wagering revenue. In the 2021/2022 financial year, that amount dropped to $129 million, just 33 per cent of the overall wagering pie.
Through the race fields ruling, Racing Victoria and the other PRAs have been able to supplement a dying revenue model with a more vibrant one, which has grown to replace it.
It would seem the perfect solution, except for one aspect.
The Victorian Government’s Joint Venture agreement with Tabcorp ends in August 2024.