Is Australian bookmaking dying or is it just evolving into a foreign-owned, 21st-century structure that will have platforms around the world.
Tom Waterhouse has been telling us he is a fourth-generation bookmaker, who knows what the punter wants. It seems he knew what William Hill, a British bookmaking stalwart, wanted after the sale of the business that carries his name. It leaves William Hill in control of Sportingbet, Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse, while Paddy Power, another big British firm, owns Sportsbet and IASbet.
The local industry has caught the eye of the big Europeans and if you add Unibet and Bet365, there aren’t too many Australian options, with the exception of the Eskander family’s Betstar.
TAB苏州美甲学校.au and Tattsbet still hold the lion’s share of the market, through totes and their fixed-odds arms, but the corporates have a healthy share of the betting dollars.
Most are based in Darwin.
Before Sky Channel and TVN, in the glory days of the track, bookmakers were like celebrities.
The SP bookie’s time has gone, too, replaced to some extent by the TAB. The track bookies had their golden era but have been victims of falling on-course crowds and usurped by the corporate giants. Walk into a betting ring and it is hard to find a young man on a bookmaking stand. That’s the reality of a hard game.
There are certainly easier ways to make a living these days than being a bookmaker. On-course bookies are more of a service, as most of the betting action is done well before they put prices up about half an hour before the race.
Just offering a price is no longer good enough. There is top tote, top “fluc”, best of the best and a myriad of other options that small bookies simply can’t offer. The margins are smaller because the focus is on turnover across the whole sporting market, and a man betting only on racing is at a disadvantage.
Punters expect value and have the ability to search for it in a couple of taps or clicks. Gone are the days when 6-4 was 9-4 on the other side of the ring and punters crowded around the bookie until he wound the price in. These days, a discrepancy of $2.50 to $3.25 simply wouldn’t happen because of technology and, if it did, only a few lucky punters would profit before the markets aligned.
So, what does the future hold?
There will always be bookies on track – tradition demands that. But the time may come when they are aligned with big operators.
A new corporate, Topbetta, has entered the market via Norfolk Island, with a plan to use a fantasy football-like system. Punters compete against each other with fantasy money during a meeting and the one winning the most at the end takes the prize. You can also back your fancies. Horse racing, always the mainstay of gambling, has tipped its lid to sports betting. The younger punters are happier to take $1.50 about Manly beating Souths than they are backing a horse or a dog for bigger returns.
The next generation will be all about live betting. It is the way of the world already and once the rules are loosened in Australia, big firms like Bwin, which is the shirt sponsor for Real Madrid, and Ladbrokes will arrive on our shores.
Bwin is already betting in the run on football games from Australia. If you fancy a bet on Capalaba versus Peninsula Power in the Brisbane Premier League on Tuesday night, you can get set.
They even provide commentary but that is a different story.
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