|The New Zealand TAB is thanking the Internet. It expects turnover from its online operations to exceed $100 million in the year to July 2004. The optimism comes as the Kiwi parliament approves Lotto games on the Internet.|
TAB Internet manager Tony Waldergrave said, ‘Receipts from online gambling topped $80m in the year to July 31, up from $60m the year before, when online bets made up 5.5 per cent of total receipts.’
According to Waldergrave, $400,000 is now being bet each month through SkyBet, a service launched in April. SkyBet lets television viewers place basic racing and sports bets through Sky Television's digital TV network.
The company is planning to spend majorly to upgrade its website (www.tab.co.nz) in the next 12 months.
Online betting, telebetting and digital television is making New Zealand's 620 offline or land based Lotto outlets paranoid. Recently, the Lotteries Commission won the approval from the Parliament to remove clauses outlawing its involvement in interactive betting from the Gambling Act which was passed on Thursday.
The offline Lotto franchisees currently employ about 3200 people and received a 7 percent commission on sales from revenues of $39.3 million last year.
Retail Merchants' Association chief executive John Albertson explains his concern. ‘Obviously interactive channels are going to take a slice of that action away from traditional `bricks and mortar' retailers. There may be room for some retailers to counter competition from the Net by 'raising their game' and making sure they provide a fun environment for punters.