If you’ve spent any time in the UK, you’ll be familiar with their retail betting setup. It’s very different to ours.
There’s no familiar TAB signage on the odd street corner or at pubs.
Instead, they have a whole array of branded betting shops along the high street. You’ll see different betting shops for Ladbrokes, Paddy Power (who own our Sportsbet), William Hill, Coral, Betfred and others.
In Britain, retail betting is essentially deregulated: as a bookmaker you can set up a shop where punters can walk in off the street and bet in cash.
In Australia, it’s much more strictly regulated. Our state governments grant retail betting licenses to the preferred bidder, who get a retail monopoly.
When off-track betting was first legalised, the government set up Totalisator Agency Boards (TABs) to run it. They opened shopfronts to take the bets. Over the years, the TABs were privatised – except for Western Australia, which remains state-owned (for now at least).
Since it acquired the Tatts Group, Tabcorp holds this license in every state and territory of Australia (except WA). But it’s not set in stone: it’s a contract to run the totalisator and retail betting in the state in question, in a joint venture with the state racing body.
And those contracts run out and need to be renewed – or put to tender where other companies may apply.
The interesting one to watch at the moment is Victoria. The Victorian retail betting license belongs to Tabcorp, who run it as a joint venture with Racing Victoria, Greyhound Racing Victoria and Harness Racing Victoria. It’s up for renewal in 2024, but it’s already generating discussion five years out.
The Victorian government published a discussion paper on the wagering license last year, and invited submissions in response. You can read them all here.
A couple of the more interesting submissions came from wagering operators. Sportsbet spoke of deregulating the retail betting market:
“…there may be sound reasons for establishing non-exclusive retail licenses within an appropriate and responsible retail network footprint. Competition in the online wagering market has spurred consumer choice, product innovation, price competition and a better overall experience for wagering consumers. It is logical that the same benefits could be enjoyed by retail wagering consumers if there was a liberalisation in the retail licence structure.”
This “liberalisation” would allow other bookmakers to open retail outlets for betting.
Betfair appear to be of a similar mind. They’d like an exclusive license to operate a betting exchange license in Victoria (Betfair is currently the only exchange in operation, though there’s nothing to stop others opening). This would include the ability to open a betting exchange retail network.
Different betting shops in the suburbs?
It would be a fair way off, but it’s possible.
In the meantime, our range of top bookie options can be found right here.
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