For years the idea of a single national betting pool has been nothing more than a dream but if predictions are right it could become a reality within 24 months.
Tatts Group head of wagering Barrie Fletton says the two year timeframe is a distinct possibility with all three totes also merging into a single brand.
As it currently stands TattsBet controls betting across Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory, Supertab in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania plus finally the NSWTAB.
This means the amount held in each pool can differ greatly depending on the interest in the race and where it is held.
This means there’s often a huge disparity in individual win / place payouts and quite often staggering differences in the exotics dividends.
On the surface the consolidation of these pools seems an obvious move but issues with differing state legislation as well as opposition from the ACCC has scuttled all previous attempts.
Now though the push seems stronger than ever before and Fletton says they are issues which can be resolved.
He’s also put TattsBet back up for sale saying if they receive a reasonable offer they will strongly consider it.
While it’s not his call to make, he says the Tatts Group Board are willing to give any offer some serious thought.
“Whether we’re an acquirer or acquiree, I imagine the board will have a look at it and if the deal is right, it will be done,” he said.
“I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.”
Fletton says the new calls come on the back of a changing market place and the need to stay competitive.
He says the rise in online betting has destroyed what once was a monopoly of the marketplace and as a result there’s no reason the ACCC should continue to oppose a national pool.
“While I can’t speak for the ACCC, I’m of the view there’s a lot of competition out there now with corporate bookmakers and betting exchanges,” he said.
“The eight different governments and regulators might also be a hurdle, but I would like to think (a national pool) it can happen within two years.
“It’s more likely to happen if there’s an acquisition of one company by the other. I don’t know which way around that will be. It’s quite likely Tabcorp could bid for us or it could be the other way. Who knows?”
Fletton says it’s also plausible to look beyond a simple Tabcorp and TattsBet merger and that tenders could be considered from overseas agencies.
Most importantly he maintains that whatever happens punters will not be negatively affected in any way.
“If it went to Tabcorp, I suppose the Tattsbet name would disappear, but Tabcorp would acquire the licence TattsBet has,” he said.
“The only thing that would change is the name. It would be business as usual.”
TattsBet recently submitted a bid for the Victorian wagering license but Tabcorp retained the deal on a 50% profit share arrangement with the racing industry.
“It wasn’t a setback at all (missing out on Victoria),” Fletton said.
“It would have been a lovely thing to get, but I was never that hopeful of getting it against the incumbents.
“It just maintains the status quo. It’s on the public record what Tabcorp have paid a 50-50 arrangement and it will leave them with less profit than they otherwise would have had.”