Record Melbourne Cup turnover helps to offset major Stakes Day impact

Racing Victoria (RV) has today announced that total domestic wagering on the 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival grew despite a significant drop on Seppelt Wines Stakes Day due to the publicised TAB outage.

Total domestic wagering turnover across the four days at Flemington grew by 6% to $667.3 million, owing largely to record engagement by Australian punters on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day.

A summary of the key domestic wagering results follows:

  • Owing to the TAB outage, turnover dropped from $104 million in 2019 to $80 million on the Stakes Day meeting – a decline of 23% year-on-year. Corporate bookmakers provided 87% of the turnover on Stakes Day – up from 55% last year;
  • A record $221.6 million was wagered across Australia on the 2020 Melbourne Cup – up 17.3% on 2019 with corporate bookmaker turnover growing by more than 50%;
  • A record $365 million was wagered on the Melbourne Cup Day meeting at Flemington – up 17% on the previous year;
  • Turnover on Derby Day grew by 11% year-on-year to $141 million;
  • Oaks Day was the 6th highest meeting of the 2020-21 season with total turnover of $82 million despite a decline of 6% year-on-year;
  • Among the factors influencing the decline on Oaks Day were a 13% reduction in field sizes; high margins on the opening two days impacting punters; and the absence of crowds and associated events on what is the only official workday of the four Flemington meetings.

Quotes attributable to RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is the biggest week of the year for Victorian racing and so its performance is crucial to the financial health and viability of our sport, given that wagering returns are the industry’s primary funding source.

“Engagement with Victorian racing has been at record levels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with many people gravitating to our sport via digital platforms and multiple broadcast options when other entertainment options were limited.

“Whilst the nation, and in particular the state of Victoria, entered Cup Week with far greater freedoms, it is pleasing to see the engagement, particularly via digital platforms, continue with record turnover on the Melbourne Cup and the Cup Day program at Flemington.

“Due to the absence of crowds; the continuance of some social restrictions; and the fact that many Victorians were out and about enjoying our first 30 degree day of spring; digital accounted for 78% of wagering on Melbourne Cup Day, up from 66% in 2019.

“We were incredibly disappointed with the TAB outage on Stakes Day and we have seen that reflected in the results with a 23% decline in turnover on the meeting. The estimated impact of that incident on the thoroughbred industry’s bottom line will be in excess of $2 million.

“The results on Oaks Day align with what we saw at the Caulfield Cup Carnival where there was significant wagering growth on the two Saturdays, but the midweek meeting saw no growth in the absence of crowds and associated hospitality events on what was also a workday.”

Quotes attributable to Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chief Executive, Steve Rosich

“We are delighted to advise three record domestic wagering results for the 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival – record wagering on the Lexus Melbourne Cup, on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, and for the Melbourne Cup Carnival, with over $667 million in turnover across the four days of Australia’s greatest racing event.

“The record engagement on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day powered the six per cent growth overall in wagering across the whole Carnival despite the unfortunate outage on Seppelt Wines Stakes Day, without which we would have certainly achieved an even higher increase. We look forward to building on these fantastic results in 2021.

“In a year like no other, the record growth in wagering turnover for the Lexus Melbourne Cup confirms its status as ‘the race that stops a nation™’ while strong engagement from members and fans across the four days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival emphasises its place in the heart of Australians.

“Against the backdrop of an incredibly challenging year for all, the VRC focussed on providing an at home experience that matched the excitement of being on course for our members and all racing fans, which has driven the growth in engagement, particularly across digital streams, and subsequent increase in wagering.”