LAST year’s live baiting scandal had a marginal effect on betting on greyhound racing, according to statistics that showed young people made up most punters in the racing code.
Research by Roy Morgan found people aged 25-34 accounted for 34.2 per cent of punters in greyhound racing, while the same age bracket made up 18 per cent in horse racing.
Overall, 3.3 million Australians – 18 per cent of the population – placed at least one bet in 2015 and 3.2 per cent, or 600,000 people, bet on greyhounds.
According to Roy Morgan Research group account director Angela Smith, greyhound racing was popular partially due to the controversy surrounding last year’s live baiting scandal interstate.
“(Those) most likely to bet on greyhounds are those defined as ‘look at me’: a niche group of social butterflies who participate in cool or outrageous activities with the in-crowd of their peers, who follow trends and want to clearly distinguish themselves from previous generations,” she said.
Animals Australia communications director Lisa Chalk said the findings were not surprising but the overall statistics were positive because she believed Australians wanted to see an end to greyhound racing.
“Given the key group of punters identified are said to be driven by the social scene more than anything else, this research isn’t all that surprising,” she said.
“It’s important to clarify that the research doesn’t show that betting has increased or that greyhound racing is popular, it simply shows that punting has been consistent. When just 3 per cent of the population is involved in something, it in fact shows just how unpopular it is.” Greyhounds WA chief executive David
Hobbs disagreed that greyhound racing was unpopular; rather, the code was “fast, fun and affordable” for their key 22-40 years demographic.
“I want to see greyhound racing become the Twenty20 of the racing codes. We are attracting a lot of young people because it is fast, fun and affordable,” he said.
Mr Hobbs said the refurbished Cannington track was set to open in early March and the organisation had shifted from its old format into a family-friendly event.
“We can’t rely on racing twice a week and we need to attract people to the track. I’ve got the best chefs, a hospitality manager and we are moving with the times; there will be no more buffet, and no more queuing,” he said.
“We want to see people at the track.”
Racing and Wagering WA did not return a call for comment.