How Responsible is “The Race That Stops a Nation”?

In the USA, they have the Super Bowl and March Madness. Europe loves the Champions League Final. (And the Eurovision.) Globally, obviously, it’s the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics that are capturing everybody’s wallets every four years. Australia – the biggest sports betting nation in the world (per capita) – is waiting each year for the Spring Racing Carnival series and its crown jewel, the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

The horse racing series usually runs from October to November, and even though the coronavirus changed this year’s schedule – it was still able to reach its pinnacle earlier this month.

How important was it for Australians? So, as you probably figured, the race (and the entire series) is the country’s most highly anticipated sporting event of the year. The Melbourne Cup contributed $A427 million in gross economic benefit to the state back in 2016. According to Spring Carnival 2017 insights, the revenue of the horse betting industry in Australia almost reached $A4 million three years ago and was expected to keep growing 3.5% a year. A year later, in 2018, the Melbourne Cup alone reported more than $A312 million in domestic turnover.

Last November 2019, at the time of the horse racing events, Optimove data analysts noted a clear increase in all major gambling metrics – total deposit amount, the total number of unique depositors, total net revenue, and more, as well as a sharp increase in new customers in sports & racing players. Still, making it happen on schedule in 2020 was not smooth sailing. But with so much at stake financially, the Ozzies found the way.

Horse Racing and Online Betting

The thing is, playing out such a huge event in a year of global health and financial crisis isn’t only a risky idea from the social distancing angle. It’s also incredibly sensitive from the social responsibility angle.

See, Australia’s horseracing industry relies heavily on the gambling industry. Data published by Queensland Government Statistician’s Office from the past 34 years finds that Australians bet almost $11,000 per person, making it the biggest betting country in the world. Yeah, that’s how big it is.

In a recent PostFunnel virtual interview, Sally Gainsbury, Director of the University of Sydney Gambling Treatment & Research Clinic, noted the reason for this being that gambling is highly accessible in Australia. And with some of the world’s biggest gamblers in terms of per capita, it’s recognized as a public health issue.

Additionally, with most bettors (“punters”, in local lingo) being almost exclusively young men, and one-third of the bets placed in a year are related to sports betting, the part gambling operators play in promoting responsible gaming is becoming increasingly critical. Especially as most of the bets are placed online on the go – meaning, it’s easier to place them. That bookmakers and online gaming operators pay close attention to socially responsible gaming marketing practices are vital, especially during a global health and financial crisis.

How will next year look like for the Australian gambling industry is, obviously, still an open question, as the world is still learning how to live with the coronavirus. In the meantime, you can read more on the latest tactics for socially responsible gaming marketing practices here.

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