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Vicky Nolan

NSW TAB Provides Attractive Innovations for Interactive Bettors

19 June 2000

Australia is home to more gamblers than more most nations, and the country's quench for gambling has long been filled by various state or territorial TABs, such as the one in New South Wales. How popular is gambling in Australia? According to a recent gambling study, eight out of 10 Australians have gambled in the last year.

Many Australians bet with the NSW TAB, which was privatized in June 1998, explained Paul Cross, the development manager of wagering. It's the largest TAB in Australia, and offers betting via phone (PhoneTAB) or the Internet (NetTAB), in addition to betting outlets and off-track betting parlors (OTBs).

NetTAB allows punters to check their accounts; check sporting results; obtain information from a racing results library dating back to 1995; listen to audio replays of races' endings from 2KY Racing radio; and place individual racing bets for as little as 50 cents.

Over 13,000 punters use Net betting, which accounts for about 2 percent of the TAB's income. The largest chunk of its turnover--about 50 percent--is generated by OTBs. Annual turnover for the TAB is an eye-popping A$4 billion--almost A$11 million per day. Net betting began in July 1997.

Trying to stay top dog in a gambling Mecca like Australia requires dedication and innovation, even if NSW residents do tend to bet more than the average Aussie. One such innovation being considered is "pushing" information to customers. "We have a pilot project on at the moment to understand how customers react to having information 'pushed' out to them and to determine the impact on our handle," Cross said.

The push trial involves sending information about preferred betting information that would prompt the punter to place a wager (i.e., sending information about a customer's favorite horse running the next day.) About 60 punters are in the trial, which is currently underway. Participants, emphasized Cross, must agree to have the information sent to them. (Spamming isn't appreciated Down Under either.)

Smart cards are also being tested. "We already have them for our PhoneTAB customers, but this represents only 20 percent of our handle," Cross said. "We are bringing out a new terminal next year which will have a card facility, at which time we will look to extend the facility to our cash customers."

The TAB also offers a special feature called "Mystery Bets," which Cross says are "designed to cater for the customer who is not sure of betting or as a quick bet with some loose change." The Mystery Bet is available in all outlets, and has a computer pick the combinations "with a skew towards the more fancied runners to increase the chances of a dividend for 'new' customers," added Cross.

The TAB website ( offers the latest betting options, live prices, and up-to-the-minute information on sports through SportsTAB, and galloping, greyhound and harness racing through RaceTAB. NetTAB customers need to open a PhoneTAB account before setting up an Internet betting account, whereupon the customer is given a NetTAB Certificate authorizing the account to be used.

Through the website, users can also access BetStream, a service that allows punters to place a large numbers of bets - more than 100 per race. Special software is required, and punters must pay an A$2000 security deposit to open a BetStream account.

WAP-enabling the TAB is a future plan, although no date has been set for it, according to Cross. The TAB offers fixed odds wagering on sports, and pari-mutuel wagering on sports and racing. One the most popular betting options is the Footy TAB, which has 5000 players each week.

Gaining the attention of potential players is easy for the TAB, which advertises its services on television, Sky Channel and radio ads. Of course, in a nation where roughly 80 percent of adults gamble, it's hard not to be successful. The NSW TAB, however, is leaving nothing to chance. The other TABs might have some good ideas the NSW TAB can implement too, Cross said.

Perhaps other e-betting sites can learn from the NSW TAB. By remaining open to innovation and change, the NSW TAB has built a behemoth betting operation. Few Net betting operators can say the same.

NSW TAB Provides Attractive Innovations for Interactive Bettors is republished from
Vicky Nolan
Vicky Nolan