The ACT government has announced plans to sell its betting agency ACTAB as early as next year. Source: AAP
AUSTRALIA’S smallest government-owned gaming business is to be sold because the ACT can’t inject the cash needed to make the ailing betting agency competitive again.
The ACT government on Friday announced ACTTAB will be sold off, possibly as early as next year after a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers outlined a compelling case for the sale of the business with just over 100 staff.
Treasurer Andrew Barr says the government hopes to conduct a competitive bid process to achieve a fair and reasonable sale price after getting the agreement of the ACT Legislative Assembly next week.
Mr Barr would not nominate a likely sale figure.
ACTTAB continues to turn a profit but has reported declining revenues in recent years as it is too small to operate as a standalone business.
Mr Barr said ACTTAB needed a capital injection that could not come from the territory budget.
Technology had fundamentally changed the business, as had the arrival of aggressive corporate bookmakers such as Tom Waterhouse.
The most active punters were now males aged 25-35 who did most of their betting on smartphones rather than in shopfronts.
“The smallest TAB in the country is simply not in a financial position to compete with businesses on an international scale,” Mr Barr told reporters in Canberra.
ACTTAB reported $1 million profit last year, down as the organisation turnover has progressively sunk to around $100 million.
The profit partly offsets the government’s $7 million support for the ACT racing industry.
The successful bidder will need to show how it would support the local racing industry.
Mr Barr said there would be job losses among ACTTAB’s staff, two-thirds in administration and the rest in the shopfronts.
The legislative assembly is likely to agree to the sale, when it was flagged earlier this year the opposition said it was well overdue.