Despite all the hype and hoopla about how great the deal Racing Queensland cut with Tatts to give them a 30-year-monopoly on ripping off Queensland punters blind was, the true position as revealed in the annual report tells a decidedly different tale.
Here are some of the highlights.
The Hey Can Do You Told Us it Was a Thirty Year Deal Deceit
When the Tatts group – via its fully owned and operated subsidiary UBET – struck a deal in 2014 with the Queensland Government – through its fully owned and managed subsidiary Racing Queensland – to extend the company’s monopoly on providing on course, in-licensed venues, and at stand-alone outlet wagering services, the punters were told that it was strictly a 30 year deal.
The company’s annual report tells us something very, very different.
Do you reckon anyone might give me a near-century long licence to run the Queensland punting mint? It would be really cool, and help a failed punt-addicted fool to put the grandkids grandkids through school.
My only real worry is how many political donations would I have to make, and in what amounts? And will there be a limit placed on the number of insider trading type-tips I will have to give to current and former elected government officials and their mates?
After all, if you blood a greyhound its always wanting to come back and bite you when it smells raw flesh, or an open wound.
The Great Racing Industry Revenue Rip-Off
Tatts paid $80.2 million LESS to the State Government of Queensland – and hence to the racing industry of the State – than they did in the year before, a decrease of 5.8%
Paid $3.4 million, or 1.7%, less to the racing industry in product fees in 2017 than they had in 2016, despite the fact that costs in the industry have risen not declined.
Great deal wasn’t it for racing sportsfans? Ever feel like you’ve been suckered?
The Titanic Tax Reduction Rort
Tatts paid $28.6 million less in income tax to the Commonwealth Government than they had the year before, a decrease of 24.9% in Federal revenue that could be applied to things such as national race and wagering regulation and monitoring compliance, capital grants funding or grants to race clubs, problem gambling prevention programs, or even poverty relief or shelter for families abused by chronic victims of the punt.
Cracker Tatts, absolutely cracker. Give yourselves a left hook in the head.
The Sensational Profit Bending Scam
The actual drop in net profit – the real dollar figure before the number fiddlers twist them and turn them – was a staggering $70.8 million or 18.7%.
To help hide the catastrophic result the Tatts numbers twisters have loaded post-tax merger profits of $23.4 million into the profit figures.
But Tatts haven’t merged with anyone yet have they? So any gain is yet to be realised isn’t it? Or have I just been asleep?
The Great Prop Your Assets By Inventing Billions of Bucks of Intangibles Ploy
This one’s an oldie but a goodie that Tatts have been using for years, but because you might not be familiar with the time-honored put the dice in your hat, peek and declare ‘craps!’ ploy I’ll go back over it.
Tatts have been loading about four and a half billion dollars worth of intangible assets on to the upside of their books for years. In fact assets of this intangible kind account for about 90% of those the company owns. Without them the Tatts Group asset position would look bloody terrible and they’d be quite a few billion in the hole.
It would be a lovely thing to be able to test the true value of the goodwill worth of the world’s worst exclusive parimutuel operator, but just like your life’s length itself and the course of it’s river, or the quantity of oxygen floating around in the sub-ozone atmosphere, or the number of stars in the universe, it’s intangible.
Make no mistake though it’s bloody big.
Don’t you worry about that.
The Devastating Lets Get Up to Our Eyeballs in Debt Distortion
Tatts are paying $46.4 million a year on earnings of just $354.1 million.
To reduce this to layman’s terms, imagine that you earn a hundred grand after tax – just under a couple of grand a week – but you’re so loaded up on credit cards that you have to throw $270 a week at the bank just to cover the interest. That’s thirteen and a half percent of your wages – a seventh of what the boss puts in the bank – just to pay the shylock’s vig and without paying a single cent on the principal amount you owe.
That’s the Tatts debt position, and at a time when the company’s income is plunging faster than Greg Louganis is hitting the water and sinking into the dive pool after jumping off a bouncing board ten meters up above and doing a triple twist as gravity pulls him down from his temporal floating position in the sky.
You’d just love to be the loan shark wouldn’t you?
The Slippery Old Uncle Kev and the Invisible Hand Olfaction
Kevin Seymour – the man whose hands seem to be everywhere in all that Tatts do in Queensland – is the largest individual shareholder in the company by the length of the old Eagle Farm straight.
Seymour owns 14.1 million shares worth about $60 to $70 million depending on the ASX price of the day, or about 10% of the company.
It’s little wonder given that when the dodgy as buggery Beattie Government gave away the TAB goldmine to private interests in 1999 it passed special legislation to exempt Seymour from the limitations on the number of shares available to be purchased that were placed on every other Queensland punter wanting a slice of the action, and thus gifted the one-time car park man the keys to the farm and its creeks full of gold.
By the way, and apropos of nothing, has anyone ever done some land searches to find out who owns the land all around Albion Park? It’s bloody interesting reading let me tell you, and don’t you worry about that.
The Utterly Useless One-Time Leader of the Liberal Party Pension Plan
Dr David Watson, the former MLA for the blue-ribbon Liberal Party state seat of Moggill and hapless leader of that party prior to its capitulation and merger with the National Party to create the LNP – earns just under $200 grand a year for his magnificent effort in managing to drag himself to 19 meetings a year and hoe into the free tucker and drinks.
The Cooking Up a Juicy Killing Reverse Robin Hood Con Job
Chief Executive Officer Robbie Cooke exercised his rights under his performance-based contract to acquire 253 383 additional shares in the company, a parcel worth more than a million bucks at the current ASX trading price.
Cooke also copped an annual pay increase of $226 324 in cold hard cash, and a few more thousand here and there in correspondingly increased leave and super benefits.
All on the back of a trading loss of $20.3 million, a decrease in profit of nearly 8%.
Its a good life for some isn’t it sportsfans?
I’m off to bed to grab forty Winx. See you at the staring stalls tomorrow.
Just make sure you don’t miss the jump.