The Gambling Giants Jockeying for Australia’s TAB

The Gambling Giants Jockeying for Australia’s TAB

The positioning has begun with regard to the purchase of the last remaining government-owned betting agency in Australia. Several large gambling companies in Australia have expressed interest in buying the betting agency in Western Australia. While it remains to be seen which company will be victorious, there are definitely a few companies in the mix.

The Betting Agency in Western Australia

Totalisator Agency BoardTAB WA stands for Totalisator Agency Board in Western Australia. TAB regulates all forms of horse racing gambling in the state. At one time, every state in Australia had a state-owned agency, but they gradually went to privatization beginning in the 1990s. Not only did the TABs have control of horse racing gambling in the state, but they also had control of media that concerned racing. Horseracing shows and sporting events were broadcast on TAB-owned radio networks. However, Western Australia is the last TAB in Australia to be owned by the government.

Western Australia covers 1/3 of the entire country of Australia. The state is the largest in the country, and the most remote. The majority of the population of Western Australia lives in the southwest corner of the state. The population of Western Australia is 2.5 million, but 2.1 million of that population lives in Perth, the capital of the state. The rest of the population is scattered in small towns and single houses all over the outback.

The Sale of TAB

For many years, Western Australians have been against the sale of the TAB, because TAB represented a central location for people to go to with their horseracing and betting concerns. It was a regulatory body in a sport that needs regulation. However, people have found now that government oversight can be at the state level or the national level, under the organizations that oversee all gambling in general. In addition, it was felt that because Western Australia had the smallest number of horse racing parks, and the parks themselves were small, they needed additional protection.

However, times have changed and the Western Australian government feels the sale of TAB would not only relieve the state of most of its burden regarding regulation, but would also drop some well-needed cash into the mix. The sale is expected to fetch between $500 million and $1 billion.

Who Will Win the Purchase?

horseracing and bettingTwo main contenders for the TAB sale have emerged. One is Sportsbet. Sportsbet operates a large and lucrative online betting platform in Australia. Sportsbet is in turn owned by a giant Irish gaming company Paddy Power Betfair. While Sportsbet has only an online presence in Australia, Paddy Power has years of experience with owning and operating retail shops, as this is what is done in both Ireland and the UK.

Tabcorp, one of the biggest competitors for Sportsbet, is headquartered in Melbourne. Tapcorp already owns two other TABS in Victoria and New South Wales. They also have experience running races on media channels.

There are a couple of other competitors vying for the TAB purchase. One is a Canadian company with a large footprint in Australia. BetEasy, formerly owned by CrownBet as part of Crown Entertainment is looking to buy TAB. BetEasy is now owned by the largest online poker company in the world, The Stars Group. BetEasy originally said that it would not be interested in investing into the TAB, because of Western Australia’s new 15% point of consumption tax. It now appears that they have changed their mind. This is especially true given that the company already tried and failed to gain a foothold into a retail market in New South Wales, and failed.

It is expected that interest between the companies for the TAB will keep the price high enough for the WA government to pick the highest bidder.

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