The TAB nearly went broke during the lockdown and required a government bail-out.
Confining its activities to sports betting, notably horse-racing, meant it was out of action for 3 months. That said, betting on one’s judgment in a sports event adds a fun dimension.
It’s a far cry from the utterly mindless poker machines which takes money from the brain-dead, the profits mostly going into the pockets of (mainly) pubs housing these machines. It’s “justified” (that’s an abuse of language) by periodically scattering relatively small sums to a diverse range of activities, amounts they’re capable of raising themselves.
But back to the TAB.
We have an election coming up. What enormous fun if we could place bets on the multitude of in-the-wind situations. What will be the final party’s polls? Will NZ First survive? Who will win Auckland Central and numerous other swing seats?
Then there’s the American Presidential election which would attract heaps of wagers. Depending on the odds, I’d put money on the disgraceful Trump surviving against the zombie Biden, that’s assuming Biden lives long enough until election day.
There’s Australian elections, local government and British, all with a following that can be covered. Or what about whether it will say, rain in Timaru on Saturday next week? That would be easy money, reminiscent of economists’ currency movement forecasts. Simply obtain the long-range weather forecasts and back the opposite outcome.
A few years back, Grant Nisbett who I admire as almost alone he talks clear English among our commentators, dropped into our Wellington office at day’s end for a drink or six. He brought with him the TAB boss who regaled us with the enormous fun enjoyed by their odds-setting panel each Monday morning. They sit around drinking coffee and with the weekend rugby results in hand, look at the next week’s matches and debate the appropriate starting odds. A lot of Kiwis would die for that job.
The easiest way for the TAB to clean up would be to emulate a situation I saw first-hand back in the 1970s.
Following his enforced retirement, then comeback, over the next few years Muhammad Ali went into a hyper-active period. This included fighting a lot of European champions who in a million years were never going to win.
Following Ali were half a dozen flamboyant black Americans who would turn up, mix with the locals, and offer incredible long odds on their man winning. They made a killing exploiting wishful thinking succumbing to the attractive odds.
If for example, the TAB offer 10,000 to one on ghastly Jamie Lee-Ross winning in the coming election, you can be assured there would be plenty of takers drawn solely by those odds. It’s free money for the TAB.
It’s exactly the same as Lotto, a totally irrational punt given the extreme microscopic chances of scoring. But such logic is abandoned when the prize is huge.
In Britain the huge bookmaking companies will give you odds on anything you care to come up with, whether the result of a beauty content, the likelihood of Meghan and Harry parting within say 5 years, who will win the Booker Prize and so on.
It adds hugely to the spice of life and would certainly brighten the dark days ahead. Hopefully the government will act on this suggestion and in the process create a highly profitable enterprise to give meaningful sums to diverse social and sporting activities from the profits and not the tokenistic amounts currently used to justify the evil poker machines.