Uncertainty hurts TAB’s efficiency
The government body that manages the WA TAB has warned continuing indecision over whether it will be privatised is undermining its ability to operate commercially and harming its ability to sustain the racing industry.
Racing and Wagering WA’s annual report highlighted the negative impact of the uncertainty.
“The matter of whether the WA TAB will be privatised continued to test the efficiency and effectiveness of our wagering operations throughout the year,” RWWA chairman Jeff Ovens and chief executive Richard Grant said in a report.
“From our board’s perspective, this uncertainty cannot continue if we are to protect the value of the TAB and its ability to make returns for the racing industry.”
The TAB’s margin on betting turnover fell slightly in the last financial year to $330.2 million, from $335.7 million in 2014-15.
The Government favours privatisation and Premier Colin Barnett has said repeatedly he believes the Government should sell the TAB, but momentum on the issue has stalled.
The Government has given $300,000 to the racing industry to fund a needs assessment but there is no progress expected on a sale — which would require legislation — until after the March State Election.
Racing and Gaming Minister Mr Grylls described the TAB as “a small-scale business in the wagering sector”.
“RWWA’s business model is being tested, largely by the growth of foreign-owned corporate bookmakers, online gambling and the softening WA economy,” he said. “Privatisation of the WA TAB needs to be seriously considered by the racing industry to ensure the ongoing sustainability of WA racing.”
Shadow racing and gaming minister Paul Papalia said the Premier’s comments “clearly had a direct and very negative impact” on the value of the TAB.
“It’s time the Premier stood up and provided certainty to the TAB, the racing industry and the taxpayers of WA,” he said.