Total gambling and pokies participation trends down in Victoria – three ways to challenge your venue

Website-What-your-members-want-from-your-next-renovationIn late November 2015 the findings from the Victorian Prevalence Study 2014 were released. The research surveyed over 13,500 Victorian adults on their gambling behaviour. The survey was focused largely around participation trends and compared the results to the previous study in 2008 to determine any significant trends.

The results were not surprising, some of the key points for us as an industry to take note of include:

  • Total gambling participation rate in 2014 has fallen from 21.5% to 16.7% since 2008.
  • Poker machine participation has dropped to 15.2% of people playing at least once in 2014, down from 21.5% in 2008 and 33.5% in 2003.
  • Betting on sports has risen to to 5.1%, with more than half of sports betters claiming to have wagered online.
  • Race betting participation rose to 20.1%, race betting is now evenly balanced in terms of gender participation.

Let’s break down these a bit further; the first point suggests that participation rates are on the decline for persons who have participated in any form of gambling at least once during 2014. A decline in participation highlights the importance of venues achieving a strong market penetration in their local area and appealing to the market through smart operational practices. Importantly, participation may be declining according to the survey but ABS shows that as a nation we are spending the same if not more on gambling than we were 15 years ago (in terms of measurable real expenditure, excluding offshore betting). Refer to the green columns on the chart below, measured on the left axis.

Real Total Gambling Expenditure

When we think in terms of real per capita expenditure, or the blue line on the chart (measured on the right axis), there has been a small decline over the 10 years. Once again, this is just measureable data, ABS does not report on offshore online betting resulting in a possible misrepresentation in the stats.

So where does this leave us? Gambling participation is down, real expenditure has plateaued and real per capita is declining. This leads us to the importance of gaining market share and having your patrons discretionary spend occurring at your venue as opposed to your competitors or to the online space.

The survey tells us that sports betting is on the rise. This should surprise nobody given the ubiquitous nature of sports betting advertising by large multinational corporate bookmakers. Punters who prefer their discretionary spend to go to sports rather than other forms of gambling, used to have little choice but to stake their bets at the local venue on a Friday and Saturday afternoon. Now, however, they don’t have to travel to their local, rather they can place bets on a mobile device wherever they are.

The challenge for venues in today’s market is to understand that consumers have most of a typical venue’s offering already at their fingertips. Punters can bet on sports and casino style games on a smartphone or tablet, they can use Lion Nathan’s ‘tap king pro’ or the like to have tap beer in their homes, at the push of a button they have a perfect coffee and every man and his dog these days thinks they’re Masterchef in the kitchen. The products that venues had exclusivity over are now widely available and consumers are significantly choosier and pickier when making the decision on where to go and where to spend a buck.

Consider these three challenges for 2016 to assist in gaining that market share and drawing customers back to your venue.

  1. The growing online space is difficult to compete against, but the competitive edge for your venue is the services and environment you provide. Challenge yourself to get punters to close the casino app on their phone and get them to your venue through providing an entertaining environment, valued customer service, loyalty and rewards and a welcoming atmosphere. Make it the place to be.
  2. Research shows that there is a gender balance when it comes to race betting participation, is your venues lounge / sports bar female friendly? Aim to build your bars to be welcoming to both genders, where all patrons can feel comfortable.
  3. The decision on which venue to visit is often made before leaving the house. Challenge yourself to be the first venue potential customers think of. Whether it be your entertainment, good food, great service, inviting beer garden – always aim to be the first on your potential customer’s mind.

To read the full report, please click here.

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