Tabcorp CEO to retire next year

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
ACCC keeps an eye on Tabcorp sales interest

Gambling operator Tabcorp has announced David Attenborough will retire from his roles as chief executive and managing director in the first half of 2021.

European Gaming reports that Tabcorp will embark on a global search for a new chief executive officer after Mr Attenborough announced his retirement.

The search comes as the company announced that board member Steven Gregg would succeed chairman Paula Dwyer as the company’s chairman when she retires from the board at the end of the year.

“The combination with Tatts is now largely complete and, as such, now is the right time to start the process to appoint the next CEO who can work with the board and management team to take the company forward,” Mr Attenborough said.

“Until then, I am totally committed to steering Tabcorp through the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring that our businesses are best positioned for the future,” he added.

Tabcorp, which merged with Tatts in 2017 in an $11 billion deal, announced the changes to the Australian Securities Exchange last Thursday.

“With the integration of Tatts nearing completion, the time is now right for a new chairman to lead the Tabcorp board into the future.

“The appointment of Steven Gregg will provide continuity of leadership and an orderly transition as the company identifies and transitions to a new management and chief executive officer,” Mr Dwyer said.

“I look forward to working with my board colleagues and executive team to realise the opportunities Tabcorp has following the Tabcorp-Tatts combination: to drive shareholder returns and the continued trust of our customers, business partner, employees, governments and the broader community,” Mr Gregg said.

Tabcorp asks for rental relief

Leaked documents reveal betting giant Tabcorp is asking for a six month rent holiday from its commercial landlords after coronavirus forced the temporary closure of its 4500 physical betting outlets.

The Saturday Paper reported in April that correspondence from Tabcorp to 374 commercial landlords says the business is experiencing significant disruption due to “unforeseen and extenuating circumstances that have arisen in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In the latter, Tabcorp “respectfully” requests a six-month suspension of rent and outgoing from April 1 to September 30.

The relief would give the company “much needed relief and capital to enable the business…to be relaunched once consumer confidence has been restored.”

If granted full rent suspension, Tabcorp could save an estimated $20 million from 374 retail outlets.

The remaining 4000 or so betting booths are inside pubs and cubs.

As Tabcorp and others in the gambling industry try to ride out the crisis, experts fear a boom in online betting will soon strike with millions of Australians in lockdown.

Monash University gambling expert Charles Livingstone says psychosocial stress from the coronavirus crisis could be a driver of high-risk and addictive gambling.

While poker machine operators will lose an estimated $7.5 billion revenue if pubs and clubs are shut for six months, Associate Professor Livingstone expects at least some of that revenue to migrate online.

He predicts Tabcorp will be looking to build its online business during the crisis and is expecting some aggressive marketing tactics – noting that the online gambling industry is already the third or fourth biggest buyer of broadcast television advertisements.

Tabcorp drives more customers online

Wagering giant Tabcorp has said its punters are embracing its efforts to get more customers betting online, when remarking prior to coronavirus in January.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a third of Tabcorp’s active customers in Victoria and New South Wales placed an online bet in a venue since October.

The shift to digital betting, led by others in the industry such as Sportsbet and Ladbrokes, over the past 15 years presented a challenge to Tabcorp’s retail network of 4,000 betting agencies and entertainment venues.

The $9 billion group’s managing director of wagering Adam Rytenskild said many punters went to its pubs and clubs to watch live sport and racing, but placed bets on their phones, not the TAB betting terminals.

This meant the venue would not get its cut of the gambling turnover.

“That’s not good for the publicans, that’s not good for the clubs and it’s not good for TAB,” he said.

“There were some extreme situations of marching customers out of the venue if they weren’t betting cash with them.”

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