As you would imagine sportsfans I know a hell of a lot of people in the racing and gambling game, and see or speak to many of them on a regular basis.
Of course I’m also mindful of Clip Clop Kev’s sage words of advice about the coercive powers of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, and so when Maggie and I dressup in our riding gear and head down to the Farm to watch our favorite porn movie movie ‘Kinky Company Directors Allergic to Grass Get Sexy and Roll in the Sand at Eagle Farm – Part IV: Nifty Nev Loves Little Dick and Gets Glee Son Going Ga Ga Over Gagel’ on southern hemisphere’s biggest porn screen in, I always block my caller ID so I can hang up quickly if she goes before the clock tower.
Sorry I’ve digressed, as I’m wont to do as I advance through the ages and into the desert lands of early dementia, but the point of the matter is that I know and talk to a stack of people who know a lot about racing and gambling.
Yes my peeps are racing people and they know most things that there are to know about all things gambling and the punt; but to a person they don’t know quite as much as they think they do, and not nearly enough, as a wee survey I’ve been conducting over the past few weeks proves.
The question I’ve been asking every punter I know across Australia is a seemingly simple one, and it’s this:
“How much commission does the Queensland TAB (UBET, or its owner Tatts) take out from the total win pool of each race that it bets on?”
To quickly explain this to readers who don’t know what pleasure is because they don’t punt, the take out commission is the percentage of the total investments made on a race that the TAB or tote operator takes out of the total betting pool before the remaining funds in the pool are redistributed to punters as earnings.
A quick example.
$1000 in total is bet on the Queensland TAB (UBET) by desperate gamblers on race 1 at the Bolivian Greyhounds, the Three Legged Dog With Mange and Rabies Stakes.
Ten punters have backed the winner, and each has had a dollar on it.
If the best things in life were free as Janet Jackson claimed then then each of the ten punters would receive a dividend of $100 (10 x $100 = $1000).
You can’t believe anything Janet says though, because this is the same bird who reckoned her 50-year-old brother who shared his bed with 12-year-old boys and asked them to stroke his dick wasn’t a pedophile.
Nothing comes for free, and so the TAB take a percentage out to cover the costs of the rent, tax, paying the wages and the power bill, printing the tickets, giving you a pencil to mark them, getting the rubbish removed and paying the cleaners bill.
(As an aside – what’s with these pencils in pubs and TAB’s? Are Tatts really traveling so badly that they can’t afford a box of pens? Did it ever occur to them that if you give people pencils it might be useful to provide some sharpeners too?)
Anyway, you have a thousand bucks worth of bets in the pool, and when the pool closes – and prior to it being paid out – the TAB take their slice.
Let’s say for the sale of the argument that it’s 10%. The betting pool is then reduced from $1000 to $900, and that sum is distributed as a dividend to the ten lucky winning ticket holders, who each now receive $90 rather than the $100 they would have copped if there was no commission taken out of the pool.
In short, that’s how TABS and totes make their money and why its a licence to print it. They can’t possibly lose, and the more they take out the more they make. It’s a pretty simple equation on the other side of the ledger as well: the more the TAB takes out, out the less the punter gets.
As I said I have been talking to a whole bunch of punters over the past few weeks and asking them what percentage they believe UBET take out from the Queensland (and SA, TAS and NT) win pools on Australian racing, including harness and greyhounds.
Without exception each and every person I put the question to replied with confidence that this take was between 14% and 16%. Not a soul believed it was even a single fraction higher.
Each and every one of them was wrong.
They are all thinking that the commission (or take-out) rates – which are prescribed by the laws of each State – for UBET are the same as that for TABCORP down south, which is laid out below (these are the Victorian rates).
They are wrong.
Queensland punters are getting fleeced like doped up sheep.
UBET can – and do – take up to 25% of the money wagered into ANY and ALL types of betting pools on any racing event.
The law that governs the amount of commission than can be taken from the pools by the monopoly TAB operator is the Wagering Act 1998, and the actual amounts that UBET can take are prescribed in the subordinate Wagering Regulation 1999.
This is it:
UBET can actually take in excess of the maximum 25% from any pool provided that by the end of the year the figures balance so that no more than the 25% has been taken overall during that year.
To explain, imagine that there are 4 weeks to go until the end of the year and the overall take out for the previous 48 weeks is running dead on 25%.
UBET are running a bit short on the balance sheet and need to pay some bills before year’s end, so in this example the company decide to take the following amounts out of the win pools on a Saturday at Doomben:
Week 1 – 40%
Week 2 – 30%
Week 3 – 30%.
During that last 4 weeks of the year the company must have taken no more than 25% out as commission overall 4 x 25% = 100% – but have already reached the 100% mark.
So then, in the last week of the year, without telling anyone the true reason why UBET throw a huge promotion that they advertise Australia wide announcing that this weekend they will be taking ZERO percent commission out of any pool at Doomben.
UBET look like champions, betting goes ballistic and the company’s turnover figures soar.
Revenue (profit) doesn’t, but that’s not the point; it’s cost them nothing because they’ve already made their money in the previous 3 weeks through the over-sized deductions, and they’ve just bought themselves a million bucks worth of advertising and fraudulently scored goodwill.
Don’t think for a second I’m making this up and it doesn’t happen, because keen race fans and punters will remember a major Winter Carnival event a few years back – I think it was either the Straddie or the 10 000; I may be wrong, it could have been the Tatts Tiara, but it was definitely a Group 1 race – where Tatts did exactly as I have described and ran a major promotion in which they didn’t take any commission on the event.
UBET (then TattsBet) just didn’t tell the sportsfans the real reason why, just as they don’t tell their customers what the actual commission taken is in the published information on their website, but elect instead to hide the fact that take-out rates are variable and at their discretion in the small print.
See that bit at the bottom reading *Commission is subject to change?
You get it now don’t you?
Queensland punters have been taken for fools for far too long, and do you know what?
We have been fools.
How do you reckon the jackpots and guarantees on the rigged first races at Albion have been funded, and how do you imagine that the harness racing turnover figures been inflated by about $5 million a year to give Clip Clop’s Albion Park love child the disproportionately greater share of the overall wagering revenue distribution that has been keeping the Emperor’s sinking Albion Park empire alive, when if the real figures were applied it would have collapsed years ago?
You don’t own 14 million Tatts shares without knowing a wee bit about how the whole game works do you sportsfans, and you don’t become one of Queensland’s richest self-made men by being stupid.
We’re the stupid ones, don’t you worry about that.
No doubt after reading this story a whole bunch of people with a whole lot to hide are going to spin like crazy and tell you that the Tabcorp/Tatts merger is going to address the issue, and that rivers of gold are going to start flowing Queensland’s way like a torrent.
The problem’s only going to get worse.
I’ll tell you why in the next story.
Step right up, step right up – every circus owners a winner!