Michael Guerin: Huge betting announcement will change the way Kiwis bet

For a small percentage of bettors, a small rule change at the TAB will mean a lot. Photo / www.photosport.nz


One of the biggest announcements in New Zealand racing history has landed with little fanfare, but could usher in huge changes to the way we bet.

The launch of Punters Promise landed with a simple email from the TAB, understandable as it will only affect a small percentage of those betting on New Zealand races.

He hailed the end of frustrating restrictions for winning bettors, which often meant punters were limited to winning a few hundred dollars or less on races and sporting events when trying to place big win bets. more.

Punters Promise, a new self-imposed minimum win limit imposed by the TAB itself, means that any customer betting on their TAB account is allowed to win a minimum of $2000 in a single winning fixed odds bet on any what a New Zealand horse or dog race.

Most people will never bet at this level and neither should they. More importantly, bettors should find their own level and, with racing being entertainment for the most part, they should treat betting the same way they treat going to the movies or going out to dinner: cash exchanged for a voucher moment.

But there is a small percentage of punters who take betting more seriously.

They like to invest more and have the disposition income to do so, and there are many racehorse owners who want to back their own horse for more than the limited amounts, which is a big lure for owning a horse.

These punters, if they win even semi-regularly, are often inhibited by incredibly frustrating restrictions and rage at the TAB.

Of course, the TAB is not alone in restricting winning bettors, it is common practice in the global betting industry, and while the ethos of letting people lose as much as they want but does not win only fixed amounts is debatable, as most bettors do not. win over a long period, the restrictions do not affect them.

But the bettors it affects tend to be the bigger, more regular bettors and the TAB restrictions here, which have reached wacky levels as the new website and betting framework took hold, have now been relaxed.

The minimum fixed odds win limit of $2000, with the ability to bet again at the reset price, is among the best in the world, especially given the small size of the New Zealand gambling market and the TAB must be praised for making the switch of their own accord.

This is a good thing. A very good thing.

One of the main reasons it was implemented is to curb the flight of bettors to overseas betting companies in hopes of better odds and fewer restrictions.

The latter tends to be Fool’s Gold because if you win with almost any offshore corporate bookmaker (there are some exceptions with smaller companies) they will quickly limit your bet amounts.

Any punter who tells you that almost all major foreign betting companies consistently let them win four-figure sums is a bettor who loses in a year. This is a cold, hard economic fact.

But Punters Promise isn’t just about giving New Zealand punters a fair deal, it’s laying the groundwork for what could be the TAB’s biggest ever power play and something that could pump tens of millions back into the game. racing industry and even help the New Zealand Sports Organization. .

The dream of TAB bosses is for overseas betting operators to be blocked from New Zealand punters to prevent what is estimated to be between $400 million and $600 million in overseas punt dollars each year.

Overseas bookmakers now pay New Zealand races a percentage of this turnover, usually around 3%, but this is a far lower percentage than what the New Zealand TAB returns to New Zealand races.

The New Zealand TAB, although not yet commenting on it publicly, would like to put an end to this leak by geo-blocking foreign bookmakers meaning that all New Zealand punters can only bet here. Which is only with the TAB.

It may not seem fair, but the Australian government did it three years ago, as did many other countries whose New Zealand internet gambling laws are among the most lax in the world.

The TAB will eventually approach racing minister Grant Robertson and ask for geo-blocking and they can now do that under the flag of Punters Promise suggesting they are giving punters here the fairest chance and can be trusted with a monopoly.

If the TAB had not guaranteed the bettors promise, restricting overseas betting operators could have simply ended betting for many winning bettors, who could not have bet overseas, were restricted here and have no interest in betting in dwindling catchall pools.

Governments tend to look down on monopolies and the TAB is still a long way from convincing Robertson and the Home Affairs Department that geo-blocking is the right thing to do for New Zealand bettors, even though it is the right thing to do. for New Zealand Race and Sport.

But Punters Promise has at least laid the groundwork for conversation and so far New Zealand punters, especially those lucky or smart enough to win, are getting a fair deal for the first time in years.