Paddy Power Betfair Bid For WA TAB Not Backed By Pubs

Paddy Power Betfair Bid For WA TAB Not Backed By Pubs

Paddy Power Betfair could bid for the Western Australian TAB when it goes up for privatisation next year, but they will not have the backing of many in the state.

The TAB, established in 1960, funds Western Australian horse racing and is considered vital to the industry, making its success a priority for the WA government. When it began to lose customers to online betting, they moved to secure its future, beginning an open discussion with all stakeholders.

That concluded in October with government announcing it would sell the WA TAB and introduce a 15% point of consumption tax to bring in revenue from foreign-owned bookmakers taking bets from Western Australians.

Sportbet Bid Not Backed

Now Paddy Power Betfair's Australian arm, Sportsbet, has emerged as a likely bidder, along with fellow online bookie BetEasy, for the entity, estimated by experts to be worth A$500million.

However, WA's pubs have spoken out in support for Australia's multi-platform betting giant Tabcorp, telling the Sydney Morning Herald that they are the only bidder they will back.

"In our mind there can really only be one successful tenderer from an industry point of view, and that’s Tabcorp, because they have the runs on the board already," said Bradley Woods, chief executive of the WA branch of the Australian Hotels Association.

“I don’t think it’s in the WA government’s interest to gamble with an unknown operator just because they might come up with some sort of whiz-bang submission. The government needs to be assured and confident in getting the best outcome for the state.”

Tabcorp Reputation Speaks

Woods describes Paddy Power Betfair's Sportsbet as an unknown operator because it is online-only, so although the Irish giant has more than 620 retail outlets under the Paddy Power name in the UK and Ireland, they have no experience on the ground in Australia.

In contrast, WA is the only area in Australia where Tabcorp does not have a betting shop, and it already bets on WA horse racing, also providing live coverage through its digital television channel Sky Racing and Sky Sports Radio.

In 2018, it reportedly generated $917m for the racing industry, accruing £2.8bn in taxes and racing industry funding. These positives come in contrast to criticisms online-only bookmakers have received for their marketing strategies, as they compete for space in the growing online market.

Many have branded their offers and advertisements as promoting excessive gambling, which Woods stresses must be taken into account when considering a new owner for TAB in Western Australia.

“We don’t have poker machines in WA, there’s no Keno in WA – wagering is the only gambling option we offer in our venues,” he said, “so we are very mindful of having high levels of responsible gambling around those products.”

Keno is a form of lottery game, and a brand-name that Tabcorp owns in Australia. It's played in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory, the latter also offering online Keno.

What's At Stake?

According to a report commissioned by the Racing and Wagering Western Australia, a body set up in 2003 to take over control of the TAB, horse and greyhound racing is worth $821million to the state.

The sports sit behind only AFL Football and motor racing for attendance in WA, sustaining more than 7,360 full-time jobs, and a further 16,000 part-time, casual, and contractor roles.

What's at stake with any change to the TAB is all of the above, 860 dog and horse breeders, 1,426 trainers, and 147 jockeys and harness-racing drivers depending on it to fund the prize money that drives their businesses.


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