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Racing Queensland's Growth Incentive Program & TopSport Product Changes

 

TopSport wishes to applaud Racing Queensland's recently announced incentive program aimed at energizing racing turnover throughout Queensland over the next 6 months.

 

What's Happened?

 

Racing Queensland have decided to trial a program designed to give all Wagering Service Providers (WSPs) an incentive to grow turnover across all three racing codes in the Sunshine State. The basic premise of the program is:

If:

  • A WSP's turnover on Queensland racing increases in a given quarter (relative to that WSP's turnover during the corresponding quarter last year); and
  • The aggregated wagering turnover on Queensland racing of all WSPs also increases during the same quarter,

Racing Queensland will offer the relevant WSP a 'rebate' on some of the product fees payable for the period.

Changes to TopSport Products & Policies

 

TopSport is always looking to improve its product offerings and pricing models whenever the regulatory and economic landscape permits. TopSport will be demonstrating its support for Racing Queensland's incentive program by offering a premium range of products, together with an aggressive pricing structure, on all thoroughbred, greyhound and harness racing events throughout Queensland for the duration of the program.

 

We have set the detail of our commitments below. To be clear, each of these changes and benefits will apply equally to all of our customers .

Thoroughbred Racing

  • Limits on 'Best of the Best Premium' wagers will be increased. Punters will be allowed to win:
    - $5,000 on all standard Saturday metropolitan race meetings within Queensland; and
    - $10,000 on any Queensland race meeting which features a Group 2, Group 3 or Listed race on the card.
  • Upon the first call of the Official Price for each Queensland thoroughbred race, TopSport will offer all Customers elevated 'Minimum Bet Limits' of:
    - $5,000 on Metropolitan races; and
    - $2,000 on Provincial & Country races.
  • For all Group 2, Group 3 or Listed thoroughbred races in Queensland, TopSport will offer all Customers elevated 'Minimum Bet Limits' of:
    - $5,000 for wagers placed prior to the first call of the Queensland Official Price; and
    - $10,000 for wagers placed after the first call of the Queensland Official Price.
  • For all Group 1 thoroughbred races in Queensland, and "special" races (eg. the 2 feature races on Magic Millions Day), TopSport will offer all Customers elevated 'Minimum Bet Limits' of:
    - $10,000 for wagers placed prior to the first call of the Queensland Official Price; and
    - $20,000 for wagers placed after the first call of the Queensland Official Price.
  • TopSport will honour all 'Minimum Bet Limits' from the moment that our markets are released, and allow customers to back a runner multiple times providing there is at least 30 seconds between wagers.
  • TopSport will further enhance its already competitive pricing policy by placing 'maximum' market percentages on all races (depending on venue and time to jump). We undertake that said market percentages will be competitive in comparison to the wider marketplace, and will give all punters a fair price from the moment fixed odds prices are released.

Harness Racing

  • In the last 5 minutes of betting, TopSport will offer all Customers elevated 'Minimum Bet Limits' of:
    - $2,000 on Saturday Night races at Albion Park; and
    - $1,000 on other races.
  • TopSport will honour all 'Minimum Bet Limits' from the moment that our markets are released, as well as elevate the limits on any Saturday Night Albion Park meeting to $1,000 for all customers.
  • For all Group 1 Harness races in Queensland, TopSport will offer all Customers elevated 'Minimum Bet Limits' of:
    - $5,000 from the moment fixed odds markets are released; and
    - $10,000 in the last 5 minutes of betting.
  • For all Group 2, Group 3, and Listed Harness races in Queensland, TopSport will offer all Customers elevated 'Minimum Bet Limits' of:
    - $2,500 from the moment fixed odds markets are released; and
    - $5,000 in the last 5 minutes of betting.
  • Best Tote will be offered on all races on a card that includes a Group or Listed Race
  • TopSport will further enhance its already competitive pricing policy by placing 'maximum' market percentages on all races (depending on venue and time to jump). We undertake that said market percentages will be competitive in comparison to the wider marketplace, and will give all punters a fair price from the moment fixed odds prices are released.

Greyhound Racing

  • In the last 5 minutes of betting, TopSport will offer all Customers elevated 'Minimum Bet Limits' of:
    - $2,000 on Thursday night races at Albion Park; and
    - $1,000 on other races.
  • TopSport will honour all 'Minimum Bet Limits' from the moment that our markets are released, as well as elevate the limits on any Thursday Night Albion Park meeting to $1,000 for all customers.
  • For all Group 1 Greyhound races in Queensland, TopSport will offer all Customers elevated 'Minimum Bet Limits' of:
    - $5,000 from the moment fixed odds markets are released; and
    - $10,000 in the last 5 minutes of betting.
  • For all Group 2, Group 3, and Listed Greyhound races in Queensland, TopSport will offer all Customers elevated 'Minimum Bet Limits' of:
    - $2,500 from the moment fixed odds markets are released; and
    - $5,000 in the last 5 minutes of betting.
  • Best Tote will be offered on all races on a card that includes a Group or Listed Race
  • TopSport will further enhance its already competitive pricing policy by placing 'maximum' market percentages on all races (depending on venue and time to jump). We undertake that said market percentages will be competitive in comparison to the wider marketplace, and will give all punters a fair price from the moment fixed odds prices are released.

Support Required

 

We urge our members (and the entire punting fraternity) to acknowledge the courage and inventiveness that Racing Queensland has displayed in its implementation of its incentive program. Attempting to stimulate turnover by offering tax incentives is a much-welcomed deviation from the well-trodden - albeit destructive and counter-intuitive - path of consistently ratcheting up taxes to counteract diminishing revenues from racing wagering. It is a sustainable and astute initiative that we strongly endorse, which the changes to our pricing policies and product limits reflect.

 

As we enter a new decade, the racing industry sits atop a precarious precipice. Turnover on racing - in all jurisdictions - has been consistently dropping in recent years. Just 5 years ago, racing turnover represented 79% of our total wagering turnover. In the 2018/19 financial year, our turnover on sport surpassed our turnover on racing for the first time ever. For an industry almost wholly dependent on wagering turnover - and one seemingly insistent on vast prizemoney increases - this is an alarming trend.

 

There is of course no single reason for the downturn in wagering turnover on racing; the problem is undeniably complex. Startling revelations regarding the mistreatment of our racehorses and greyhounds both during their careers and in retirement have likely deterred several recreational punters. While restrictive pricing models and product limits as a result of prohibitive taxation regimes have tested the resolve of the more devoted and discerning gamblers. Regardless of the cause, a rapid and radical change in approach is needed if the racing industry is to have any chance of arresting the slide in turnover and, in turn, preserving funding for both prizemoney and the vitally important animal welfare fund.

 

Our operational objective has always been simply to be a 'fair' bookmaker. This does not mean that we take all of every bet. It means simply that we will provide fair limits, first-rate products, competitive prices and promotions to all of our customers regardless of their respective success levels.

 

Unfortunately, in the current racing wagering environment it has become simply impossible to run this fair operational model in some jurisdictions. For the second consecutive year, the amount we paid in racing product fees significantly exceeded the revenue we derived from wagering on racing. This is even before taking into account the additional amounts now payable in respect of the Point of Consumption tax and the other operational expenses associated with running a business.

 

We are confident that we manage the lower-margin and professional segments of the industry better than any other bookmaker. We feel that if we cannot make it work, then no-one can. In these circumstances, why would any other operator - especially larger operators who are beholden to shareholders - even try? The only fiscally responsible and viable option for WSPs is to change their operational models in a way which deters winning and low-to-medium margin punters.

 

We have alerted regulators to these realities on a number of occasions. In order for the racing industry to subsist and retain its esteemed place within the Australian sporting landscape, we need to ensure that valuable industry participants aren't being wilfully sidelined. We believe that there would have been, and would continue to be, a plethora of extra turnover available to the racing industry if product fees and other wagering taxes were levied in a sustainable way and bookmakers were actively encouraged to grow their product.

 

We will continue to eagerly support any Racing Body showing acuity and foresight in their approach to taxation and introducing a policy akin to that instituted by Racing Queensland this week. To demonstrate this support, we will ensure that we pass any savings onto the industry's biggest and most important contributor - the punter - whenever there is such a positive policy change.

 

We are likely to be confronted with some challenging decisions ahead of the 2020/21 racing season if more racing control bodies don't adopt some significant changes to their taxation methodologies. We have always and will always strive to offer all of our punters a fair and competitive service, however, we cannot feasibly continue to dedicate resources to racing wagering if it continues to be impossible to be profitable whilst still achieving our operational objective of 'fairness'.

 

The next 6 months leading-up to the release of the new Race Fields agreements will be crucial for the short-term future of the racing industry. We are hopeful that our members, and the wider racing industry, actively support Racing Queensland's initiative. Any positive outcomes from the program will be persuasive in future discussions with other racing bodies regarding the implementation of similar schemes. We thank Racing Queensland again for trialing this brilliant initiative and we look forward to seeing considerable growth across all racing codes throughout the Sunshine State!

 

Happy Punting!

Tristan Merlehan
Chief Executive Officer
TopSport

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