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The International Business of Gambling: Australia’s Melbourne Cup

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The International Business of Gambling: Australia’s Melbourne Cup

Horse Racing - Steeple ChaseGambling and betting, although legally restricted by the federal government here in the United States, continues to rise in popularity. It’s also an economic powerhouse that provides jobs, supports local businesses and strengthens local communities, according to a recent study by the American Gaming Association.

So yes, we already have a pretty good idea on how gambling is perceived here at home, but what about to the rest of the world? Well, let’s take a look at our friends over in Australia who frankly, love to take bets and specifically, on horse-racing. Home to 479 different race courses, more than any other country on the planet, horse-racing has long since been an undeniable part of Australian culture.

The pinnacle of this multi-billion dollar industry, The Melbourne Cup, takes place on the first Tuesday of every November and has been appropriately dubbed, “The race that stops a nation.” But exactly how important is the Melbourne Cup to the average Australian? With SurveyMonkey Audience—our online product that helps you find specific survey respondents—we dared to find out. Over 250 Australians were asked about what The Melbourne Cup means to them.

Here’s what we learned.

Melbourne Cup

The first assumption might be is people only care about the horses. But when Australians think of The Melbourne Cup, it’s actually the betting that’s top of mind for people regarding this national event. The most recent Australian Productivity Commission Report on Gambling recorded $19 billion dollars in total gambling spend in the Australian market and, since horse-racing contributes to over ten times the nationwide spend than does sports betting, The Melbourne Cup is definitely a gambler’s market.

Betting BehaviorAs it turns out, more than half of our panel (58%) stated that they bet on horse-racing. What’s interesting was that 54% of those punters said they only bet on horse-racing during the Melbourne Cup. It’s hard to deny the significance of a national sporting event that can urge such a huge number of otherwise non-gamblers to reach into their wallets, purses, and pockets and flirt with Lady Luck. After all, the chance only comes around once a year, right?

Fortunately, the vast majority of those that do put down a wager prefer a modest one, with 67% of Melbourne Cup gamblers reporting that they bet with $20 or less, perhaps in a sweepstakes.

Here are some additional findings you might find interesting on the Cup’s gambling habits:

  • 61% of females reported that they plan to place a bet at the Melbourne Cup as opposed to only 52% of males reporting the same
  • 23% of males exclusively bet on The Melbourne Cup vs. 39% of females
  • The male demographic is more than six times more likely to bet regularly on horse-racing than their female counterparts (13% vs. 2%)
  • Well under 10% said they’d be watching The Cup either with friends or at a bar. Most at 64% will instead be going about their normal Tuesday and have no Cup-related plans

It was surprising to learn from the data that most of Australia thinks that The Melbourne Cup should remain off their holiday calendar. Well over half (60%) of non-Victoria residents—The Melbourne Cup takes place in the state of Victoria—responded that they don’t believe it should be a national holiday.

Considering the holiday-friendly reputation and recreational nature of the Australian culture, these definitely aren’t the results we anticipated. But such is the nature of market research, taking a notion that sometimes seems obvious, dismissing all bias, and boiling it down to what everyday people think and feel.

Interested in more gambling data? Our CEO talked about the state of online gambling on Bloomberg West. And if you’re ready to get started with your own SurveyMonkey Audience research project, visit our resource page here

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