Australians already bet hundreds of millions of dollars on the Melbourne Cup, but smart phones make it much easier to have a punt than ever before.
Correspondent: Simon Lauder
Speakers: Craig Shulman, IBIS World analyst; Dr Samantha Thomas, Monash University sociologist
LAUDER: Thousands of people lined Melbourne's streets this afternoon to watch a colourful parade of Melbourne Cup jockeys, horse trainers and owners.
While the hype before tomorrow's race is nearing its peak, Cup Day takings continue to grow year by year for online betting agencies.
Market research group IBISWorld says smart phones have made punting easier than ever. And sports betting has been growing by about 15 per cent a year. IBISWorld analyst Craig Shulman says Australians bet just over $700 million in Melbourne Cup week last year but this year is expected to be even bigger.
SHULMAN: It's very easy even up to the second before these races to place a bet on the races and so as a result we expect a betting growth during the Melbourne Cup Carnival to rise 7.5 per cent over last year to reach $750 million.
LAUDER: Seven and half per cent, that's quite a big leap in one year.
SHULMAN: Yes, that's correct.
LAUDER: And is that mainly down to the number of smart phone apps that link people up with these betting agencies?
SHULMAN: It is being pushed a lot due to the smart phone apps as well as just general online accessibility but at the same time it's also being pushed by a greater amount of promotion and drive by the established players within horse racing to arouse interest in what's been an industry that has been suffering from flat interest over the last few years.
LAUDER: Monash University sociologist Dr Samantha Thomas has been monitoring the explosion of online gambling. She says it's changing the way people experience events like the Melbourne Cup.
THOMAS: Immediately as they sign up to that company, the company has all their details. And that means that in the future they're constantly bombarded with email marketing strategies, alerts and so on which encourage them to gamble throughout the year. So no longer is this a one-off event for people but they're being encouraged to gamble all year round.
LAUDER: Is there any way of knowing how much Australians are spending and losing on that type of betting?
THOMAS: No, and I guess one of the problems that we have is that not only do we have gambling companies that are registered here in Australia but we know that a considerable number of people will go offshore to bet as well. And so really what we've only got at the moment are estimates of what is being spent.
What we know about problem gambling is that the risks increase as we have more accessibility to gambling products. Given that these new technologies are making gambling so accessible for so many people and are directly targeting particularly young men in their marketing strategies. There are certainly concerns about how many young men may be vulnerable to those risks.