Horse racing continues to dominate Australia’s betting market

Business News

Betting on horse racing continues to dominate the gambling market in Australia, despite the prominence in recent years of sport betting, analysis reveals.

Market research company Roy Morgan has delved into Australian gambling habits to produce a series of gambling reports that include analysis of race and sports betting, poker machines, casino table games, keno, lotteries and scratch tickets.

Their analysis shows that racing – whether horse racing, harness racing or greyhound racing – still commands nearly 75% of the Australian betting market.

Thoroughbred racing is most dominant, comprising 50.9% of the total betting market. A further 12.5% bet on greyhound racing and 11.4% bet on harness racing.

Sports betting itself equals 25% of the money Australians bet in 2017, and this was dominated by the two major football codes which comprise more than half of Australian sports betting. It was found that 7.6% of money bet in Australia is on NRL/State of Origin markets (rugby league), just ahead of the 6.8% bet on AFL-related events (Australian Rules football).

The balance of 10.7% is spread around all other sports, including tennis, cricket, basketball, swimming, football, netball, cycling and many others.

Despite the continued traditional dominance of horse racing in the betting sphere, Roy Morgan says Australia’s multi-billion dollar betting industry has undergone great change in recent years due to the rise of smartphones.

Today, 86% of Australians use a smartphone as their main phone, and the prevalence of sports betting apps allows Australians to gamble from the comfort of their own couch, while travelling, or even from the stands at the game.

Analysis of the 10.5% of Australians who have had a bet in the last three months reveals there are noteworthy differences.

It was found that the proportion of Australians having a bet by age increases until retirement age, at which point the likelihood of having a bet plunges.

Only 7.2% of Australians aged under 25 have had a bet in the last three months compared to 9.3% of those aged 25-34, 11.3% of those aged 35-49, and 12.6% of those aged 50-64 – the highest of any age group. Then, it drops back to 10.2% of Australians of retirement age (aged 65 and over).

Analysing betting patterns by state and territory shows a rougher correlation.

Australians in the two largest states are most likely to bet: 11.5% of Victorians and 11.1% of those from New South Wales (including ACT) have had a bet in the last three months.

The likelihood of betting is below the national average in all other states, with 9.8% of those in Queensland and Western Australia having a bet, 8.1% of South Australians and only 7.2% of those in Australia’s smallest state, Tasmania.

The Northern Territory, home to many of Australia’s sports betting agencies due to favourable gambling laws, bucks this trend with 11.1% of its residents having a bet in the last three months.

Roy Morgan’s Australian chief executive Michele Levine says Australians’ love of sport is well-known, and for many Australians having a punt adds an extra something to the contest.

“Over two million Australians aged 18-plus – 10.5% – have had a bet in the last three months whether on horse racing, greyhounds, or sporting events like the AFL, NRL, tennis, cricket or any of thousands of other sports available to bet on whether the sporting contest is undertaken here in Australia or almost anywhere around the world.

“It is hardly surprising that Australians having a bet are far more likely to be men (13.9% of Australian men aged 18+) than women (7.3%).”

She also noted the strong correlation between increasing age and the likelihood of having a bet up until retirement age.

“Intriguingly, the likelihood of having a bet also correlates fairly well to the size of the state an Australian is from.

“The most likely Australians to have a bet are those from Australia’s largest states of New South Wales (11.1%) and Victoria (11.5%) whilst the least likely are from Australia’s two smaller states of South Australia (8.1%) and Tasmania (7.2%).

“This disparity is likely related to the lack of professional sporting content available in smaller markets.

“As a comparison there are 17 professional AFL/NRL/Super Rugby/A-League clubs in New South Wales, 14 in Victoria, 7 in Queensland and 3 each in Western Australia and South Australia. There are no professional football clubs in Tasmania.

“The relatively high proportion of Northern Territorians who’ve had a bet at 11.1% does buck this trend. However, it’s worth remembering that the Northern Territory has long been a home to many Australians sports and horse racing betting companies due to the favourable laws in the jurisdiction.”