Colour and movement: Encouraging Asian betting into Australian markets would be a boon for racing. Photo: Jenny EvansWith the footy finals behind us, the Spring Carnival starts in earnest and racing gets its annual moment in the sporting spotlight.
For the next month or so, all will seem well in the racing world. But where does the sport fit in the broader landscape and what does the future hold?
The push towards making the racing channel TVN available on free-to-air television would certainly give racing more exposure, thus increasing betting turnover and, therefore, funding for the industry.
That is important. The Spring Carnival is the reason racing resonates in the public psyche and provides one of the main revenue streams from the big crowds at tracks around the country. But spectator numbers are not increasing.
Even on a perfect sunny day and with spanking new facilities, Randwick managed to attract just over 21,000 punters to the track on Saturday. There are plenty of other ways to spend a Saturday.
Clubs these days focus on different revenue streams rather than depending solely on racing. Concerts, conventions and functions contribute more than ever to a racing club’s income.
The Melbourne Racing Club has expanded its business into pubs, which helps to fund the racing.
The major part of racing’s income still comes from the TAB distribution, which depends on turnover. But this form of revenue, while consistent, is under pressure from other operators – sports betting in particular. Betting is what drives and funds the sport. It always has and always will.
Opportunities are opening up around the world to increase the return from betting. Video of Australian racing is beamed into 51 countries, while Australia imports racing footage from 11 nations.
The return from this international exposure is now more than $20 million a year to the industry through betting in other jurisdictions. It continues to grow.
The idea of betting on races from around the world was not on the radar as recently as 15 years ago, but is now a fundamental part of the sport. The outbreak of equine influenza in 2007 accelerated the development in Australia of betting on international racing.
Betting across international borders is now more accepted and events such as Royal Ascot and the Hong Kong International races draw a lot of attention and activity from punters.
The vision and the betting rights have to be sold together to make the most of their value. Therefore TVN and Tabcorp need to work as partners to sell NSW and Victoria racing into the lucrative Asian markets.
There is a huge appetite for gambling in Asia and to have that substantial market betting into Australian pools would be a boon for racing.
Races will again be beamed into Hong Kong on Caulfield Cup day from Melbourne and Randwick. Hong Kong will bet into its own pool for the races but a co-mingling of pools is not too far away.
The particular beneficiaries of Hong Kong money will be the quinella and exacta pools, which are the favoured form of betting in that part of the world.
Once Australia co-mingles into the Hong Kong pool, it will allow punters to bet bigger with more confidence as the tote pools are massive for races at Sha Tin and Happy Valley.
It is a win-win situation for racing because it will drive big returns.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.