Digital advertising, including the likes of YouTube, means the real figure is much higher. The Albanese government has not yet responded to the final report, which recommended gambling advertising on “dedicated racing channels and programming” be exempt from any changes.
While Entain has not signed any agreement, sources familiar with the process said it is still interested in pursuing a deal. It told the networks the aim of an Entain-operated channel, which would appear on traditional TVs alongside 9Go or 7mate, would be a way to loosen Tabcorp’s control over the broadcast of state-based racing.
If it progresses, the model would be based on the Racing.com channel, which was initially a joint venture between Seven Network and Racing Victoria. Racing.com was led by former Billabong director Scott Perrin, who was involved in Entain’s talks with commercial networks last year. In 2020, Seven ended its ownership of the channel but struck a long-term commercial deal.
The difficulty with managing a dedicated free-to-air channel is that it needs racing rights to succeed.
Last year, Entain struck a 25-year deal with New Zealand TAB, taking over betting and broadcasting operations over that time. A core part of growing that audience is to give NZ racing a bigger footprint in Australia.
Racing.com has the rights to key racing events in Victoria and South Australia across the calendar year and Entain rival Tabcorp is on the brink of securing a deal to sublicense the Melbourne Cup broadcast rights to Nine Entertainment. Nine is the owner of this masthead.
Tabcorp’s Sky Racing Channel, which broadcasts thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing, is not accessible on free-to-air television; it runs on Foxtel and streaming service Kayo.
Traditional TV network audiences have trended downwards over the past decade. While audience figures have stabilised with the growth of online video platforms, a lump sum payment to lease spectrum for a multichannel would be a relatively easy way to make money.
Launching a multichannel is just one of several strategic plays for Entain. The group is part of a process being run by Barrenjoey that will determine the new operator of the WA TAB. Entain, PointsBet and Sportsbet are all expected to take a look at the viability of securing the retail wagering licence. Tabcorp pulled the pin on the $1 billion process because it believed the arrangement would not be commercially viable.
George Barham, an accomplished journalist and avid gambling enthusiast, serves as the esteemed Editor-in-Chief at fly-to-australia.com, Australia’s leading source for comprehensive gambling news and insights. With an unwavering passion for both the written word and the ever-evolving world of betting and gaming, George brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the helm of our editorial team.