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Daily Archives: November 3, 2008

Economic woes not scaring punters off Australia’s big race: bookies

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by Neil Sands*

The global economic crisis is not preventing Australian punters from having a flutter on the country's biggest horse race, the Melbourne Cup, according to bookmakers.
While organisers admit corporate interest in tomorrow's event has been flat, bookmakers say most Australians have defied the gloom generated by financial meltdown ahead of the meeting billed as "the race that stops a nation".
"Business has been great — betting on the Melbourne Cup's showing no sign of slowing down," said Neil Evans of online bookmaker Centrebet.
"We're traditionally an industry that's been regarded as pretty bullet-proof when it comes to tough economic times because we're a relatively cheap form of entertainment for people who are down on their luck.
"You can bet as little or as much as you want and, if you're smart, you can even make a bit of money."
Almost 160 million dollars in bets were placed with off-track betting agencies in Victoria and New South Wales states last year, although the figure climbs considerably when online betting and office sweepstakes are included.
Robert Nason, managing director of wagering at betting agency TABcorp, said similar figures were expected this year, citing strong turnover at lead up races in the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
"We're not expecting the economic crisis to have a big impact," he said.
"There may be some effect but it won't be for quite some time, possibly until after Christmas, when we see if there is going to be a downturn."
The Melbourne Cup, the world's richest race over 3,200m with 5.5 million dollars prize money, has previously shown its ability to thrive in troubled economic times.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the performances of New Zealand born gelding Phar Lap captured the public imagination and elevated the horse to the status of a national sporting icon rivalling cricketer Don Bradman.
While the average Australian punter is still embracing the race, corporate interest in the event at Melbourne's Flemington racetrack has waned as profit margins are squeezed by the financial crisis.
The number of corporate marquees in the exclusive "Birdcage" enclosure at Flemington has fallen from 53 to 46, with cosmetics firm L'Oreal and champagne maker Moet & Chandon among those spending their promotional dollars elsewhere.
Victoria Racing Club general manager of sponsorship Brendan Ford said companies were tightening their belts.
"This year it has levelled off," he said. "We're experiencing minimal growth in sponsorship and corporate hospitality is running at the same level.
"There's been a lot more scrutiny on costs this year."
The cup is also traditionally an event where racegoers don their finery, with women sporting frocks and hats and men formally decked out in suits.
Milliner Louise Macdonald said most of her Melbourne Cup orders had been made in July and August, before the financial crisis began to bite, but she had heard anecdotal evidence of some people in the industry struggling.
"We'll have to see how I go next year. Maybe I'll have to get a new job," she said.
However, Centrebet's Evans said the Melbourne Cup would always generate business.
"It's ingrained in Australia's sporting psyche," he said.
"Absolutely everyone has a bet on the cup, from your hardened punters to the once-a-year office worker. It'll always be like that."

    
*AFP

Economic woes not scaring punters off Australia’s big race: bookies

Sample Image
 
by Neil Sands*

The global economic crisis is not preventing Australian punters from having a flutter on the country's biggest horse race, the Melbourne Cup, according to bookmakers.
While organisers admit corporate interest in tomorrow's event has been flat, bookmakers say most Australians have defied the gloom generated by financial meltdown ahead of the meeting billed as "the race that stops a nation".
"Business has been great — betting on the Melbourne Cup's showing no sign of slowing down," said Neil Evans of online bookmaker Centrebet.
"We're traditionally an industry that's been regarded as pretty bullet-proof when it comes to tough economic times because we're a relatively cheap form of entertainment for people who are down on their luck.
"You can bet as little or as much as you want and, if you're smart, you can even make a bit of money."
Almost 160 million dollars in bets were placed with off-track betting agencies in Victoria and New South Wales states last year, although the figure climbs considerably when online betting and office sweepstakes are included.
Robert Nason, managing director of wagering at betting agency TABcorp, said similar figures were expected this year, citing strong turnover at lead up races in the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
"We're not expecting the economic crisis to have a big impact," he said.
"There may be some effect but it won't be for quite some time, possibly until after Christmas, when we see if there is going to be a downturn."
The Melbourne Cup, the world's richest race over 3,200m with 5.5 million dollars prize money, has previously shown its ability to thrive in troubled economic times.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the performances of New Zealand born gelding Phar Lap captured the public imagination and elevated the horse to the status of a national sporting icon rivalling cricketer Don Bradman.
While the average Australian punter is still embracing the race, corporate interest in the event at Melbourne's Flemington racetrack has waned as profit margins are squeezed by the financial crisis.
The number of corporate marquees in the exclusive "Birdcage" enclosure at Flemington has fallen from 53 to 46, with cosmetics firm L'Oreal and champagne maker Moet & Chandon among those spending their promotional dollars elsewhere.
Victoria Racing Club general manager of sponsorship Brendan Ford said companies were tightening their belts.
"This year it has levelled off," he said. "We're experiencing minimal growth in sponsorship and corporate hospitality is running at the same level.
"There's been a lot more scrutiny on costs this year."
The cup is also traditionally an event where racegoers don their finery, with women sporting frocks and hats and men formally decked out in suits.
Milliner Louise Macdonald said most of her Melbourne Cup orders had been made in July and August, before the financial crisis began to bite, but she had heard anecdotal evidence of some people in the industry struggling.
"We'll have to see how I go next year. Maybe I'll have to get a new job," she said.
However, Centrebet's Evans said the Melbourne Cup would always generate business.
"It's ingrained in Australia's sporting psyche," he said.
"Absolutely everyone has a bet on the cup, from your hardened punters to the once-a-year office worker. It'll always be like that."

    
*AFP

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