Online bookies come out on top as betting soars on Melbourne Cup

Australia’s online bookmakers emerged the biggest winners from Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup, with a huge surge in betting on the main race and an outside chance crossing the line first at Flemington.

The country’s largest bookmaker TAB, which operates in both retail betting shops and venues as well as online, reported that its turnover on the Cup fell about 6 per cent to $100 million compared to last year.

More Australians have taken up punting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More Australians have taken up punting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit:Getty Images for the VRC

But its online rival Sportsbet said the number of bets it received and the total amount wagered more than doubled, while there was a 42 per cent jump in turnover at Ladbrokes and Neds, both owned by the British bookmaker GVC.

“The big money all day was for Surprise Baby, Verry Elleegant, Tiger Moth and Jamie Kah with Prince of Arran, so overall it was a good result for us,” said GVC Australia CEO Dean Shannon.


Australians usually wager about $300 million on the Cup and there were signs leading into the race that 2020 would be a bumper year, with betting on Caulfield Cup Day up 32 per cent and Cox Plate Day up 19 per cent.

Recent government research shows that Australians started gambling online in greater numbers while starved of entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic, and turned to horseracing in particular while major sporting leagues were suspended.

TAB’s turnover was down 17.7 per cent in Victoria, where its retail betting shops and licensed venues only reopened last week, but was flat across the rest of Australia.

“I want to pay tribute to the hotels, clubs and TAB agents for managing such a difficult day so well and allowing punters to rediscover the joy of their local TAB,” said Adam Rytenskild, TAB owner Tabcorp’s managing director of wagering.

Mr Rytenskild said COVID-19 had accelerated the shift to online betting, with the number of new digital accounts opened with TAB on Tuesady 70 per cent higher than on Cup day last year.

Betting on last year’s Cup fell slightly from 2018, as online bookmakers offered conservative odds to protect their profit margins in response to new “point of consumption taxes” being rolled out nationwide.

But competition between the online bookies and the incumbent TAB has heated up in the past year, flooding the airways with advertising, offering generous inducements such as sign-up bonuses, and much punter-friendlier odds. JP Morgan analysis shows that Australian bookmakers’ average “over-round” – which is their theoretical profit margin, as implied by their odds – had fallen 1.4 per cent in the year to September.

While Tuesday’s leading contenders Surprise Baby and Anthony Van Dyck disappointed punters who backed the favourites, TAB said it has paid out large returns to those who took a chance on the winner Twilight Payment.

One customer placed a $5000 bet at $26 today on the winner to net themselves $130,000, while a $2500 bet placed on Friday when Twilight Payment was still a $34 chance collected $85,000. Arguably the luckiest punter was a TAB customer who won $64,418 after wagering just $24 on the winner and the next three horses to cross the line.

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Source: Thanks