Despite the progress being made by some industry bodies to work with all incoming participants to seek out "new money", we now know Bob Bentley sits with Peter V'Landys in trying to maintain yesterday's betting model.
They have both decided that Tabtanic is still the biggest ship in the ocean, and we must all stay on board for the never-ending ride, apparently never to dock (well, they have that part right!). It seems that these two men are so confident of their decision, that they can remove all of the smaller betting companies out of the picture right now, in other words, get rid of the lifeboats, as they have no importance in the oceanic world of betting.
Let's look at the business model that I call, the Tabtanic.
The modern world is often described as the information "super-highway". In this modern world, consumers want precise information. Gone are the days where punters will accept any price.
Imagine walking into Woolworths, selecting items off the shelves and observing the prices. But when you get to the checkout, the cashier advises you that the prices have since changed, and total amount is different. Who would accept this scenario?
When employees received superannuation payments in the sixties, seventies, and the eighties, they were often involved in whole of life plans with bonuses which produced a maturity value that was unknown until your actual retirement. It was only when you retired that an actuary calculated your benefit and you found out what your exact superannuation benefit amounted to?
With time, these types of superannuation plans slipped by the wayside, with future retirees demanding benefit plans with fixed-interest or share portfolios that provide half-yearly statements showing exactly what their retirement benefit is at any one time.
But here we have Peter and Bob telling us in the 21st century that the best thing for the industry is for punters to continue to accept an unknown dividend until after the race. This is despite the fact that half the punters out there are remain skeptical of dividends which reduce after the race has started, and the remaining punters who accept that late money coming in from totalisator terminals around the country contribute to a late change of dividends, but are no longer prepared to accept these odds anyway.
Perhaps annual salaries for Racing NSW employees should be determined by a "chocolate wheel" each year, to give them a sense of why punters are no longer enticed to TAB dividends...
When I first started the Trackdata website in 2005, I made a request to the TAB Fixed Odds management to be able to manually reproduce their odds on my website in my Betting Analysis report. I received a sarcastic reply from one of their current leading media spokesman, second-hand through a Customer Service member, advising: "why not, we can't legally stop you”, or something along very similar lines.
At the time, I thought very little of it. Upon reflection, I now ask myself why would the supposed leading betting agency in this country so flippantly handle a request to advertise their product for free? Whether big or small, a smarter operation would have put my request through to their Marketing team, and they would have bent over backwards to provide content or assistance that in anyway helped to promote their products, especially at no cost to themselves!
Within three months of this website going live, Betfair approached me to provide content and request advertising space! And so have other online bookmakers, both in Australia and overseas. And despite my "minnow status" compared to Racenet, Racing and Sports, and the other larger racing portals, they still do.
No-one from any TAB agency has ever contacted my website to discuss advertising or even to assist in any sort of promotion initiative. In fact, excluding emails challenging or criticising my editorials, the only personal correspondence I have ever received from anyone involved with ANY Totalisator Agency in Australia is from Brad Tamir of Unitab, who does seem to make an effort to promote his UNITAB jackpot pools. This information is often promoted by the Just Racing website each Friday, so Brad appears to be pulling his weight up in the sunny state.
Some might argue that Trackdata is pro-betting exchanges and anti-TAB, and in a great many areas this is true. But despite receiving advertising money from Betfair, I have ripped into them about reduction factors and other problems along the way, and they have never sought to intervene on any editorial stance.
However, any regular reader of this website would also be aware that Trackdata has continually congratulated TABCORP for their early Fixed Odds service on racing. We have done so for four years, and we continue to do so.
Of course, the most common way for racing portals to earn money and pay their costs are through "affilliateships", which basically means that we receive income for "referring" new customers that join up to a betting company, whenever a reader clicks on the links from our web pages. Bookmakers and betting exchanges regularly make contact with me in order to see what they can do to more extensively broaden their coverage on my site. I am sometimes a little embarrassed by the attention that they seek.
After four years of operating Trackdata, I still do not know whether the TAB runs such a scheme. Sure, there is a link at the bottom of their website. I have even joined up. Twice. Because I heard nothing from them the first time!
I have only one minor link to TABCORP on my RACE BETTING page, yet apparently two new customers have signed up to Tabcorp through my site, earning Trackdata $30 in commission, according to their own affiliate statistics.
Yet no-one from TABCORP has ever contacted me to ask what we can do together to promote the TAB on my website, increasing new customers for them, and revenue for myself. No-one, ever!
Yet betting exchanges and bookmaker representatives do. All of the time!
I am not too concerned about being paid my $30 commission. I will survive without it. But I am concerned that no-one from Tabcorp has ever contacted me from a marketing point of view, and that no-one from Racing NSW or Queensland Racing really knows how pathetic that their Tabtanic is performing in regard to attracting new customers.
I can accept that the TAB may feel that it is not in their best financial interests to provide affilliateships or strategic advertising to all websites.
Trackdata may be a very small fish in the internet ocean, but if the TAB, supposedly suffering their worst period of stagnated growth, has never contacted me, but many of the other corporate bookmakers and Betfair have, then what does that say about the marketing direction of the biggest vessel in the sea? Does anyone smell an iceberg?
But according to Bob and Peter, the Tabtanic is the correct ship of choice. They are the ones being charged with taking us into the next wagering century. They have SKY channel to do all of their advertising. They have dingy TAB outlets, and websites that are not up to scratch.
No need to go and seek out or educate punters. It is the punters job to find them...
Kevin Skene, TRACKDATA, 29/05/2009