Australia / Press Releases
Betting Rises But Attendance Falls At The Melbourne Cup

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by Tom Youl
Nov 02 2018

IBISWorld: Betting rises but attendance falls at ‘the race that stops the nation’

According to business research company IBISWorld, betting on the Melbourne Cup continues to grow. The Melbourne Cup, which is being run next week for the 157th time, remains a key date on the calendar for bookmakers and punters alike. However, Melbourne Cup attendance and betting volumes have changed significantly over the past five years.

“More international runners are featuring in the race and a greater share of the crowd at Flemington is being made up of visitors from overseas and interstate. While betting on the cup through traditional platforms such as the TAB is declining, online agencies have reported rapid growth on Melbourne Cup betting,” said IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst Tom Youl.

Betting expenditure on the Melbourne Cup through TAB and Ubet has declined over the past five years. However, online betting agencies such as Sportsbet and Beteasy have taken market share from these traditional players in the Horse and Sporting Betting industry, a trend reflected in consumer expenditure on Melbourne Cup betting.

“Sportsbet reported $25 million in Cup wagering in 2016, up from $20 million in 2015, while traditional bookmakers reported a decline. Overall, betting expenditure is expected to have increased over the past five years once online wagers are considered. This trend is likely to continue in 2018-19, as per capita betting expenditure is forecast to remain mostly stable,” said Mr Youl.

While the way Australians bet on the nation’s biggest race is changing, IBISWorld believes wagering on The Cup is likely to remain an integral part of the day.

Conversely, Melbourne Cup attendance has been in decline since its peak in 2003. The Melbourne Cup Carnival drew in 318,854 visitors in 2016, down almost 100,000 people over from 2006. This reflects a wider trend of falling attendances at horse races. “The rise of online betting platforms has made race day attendance less appealing, as people no longer need to bet through bricks-and-mortar bookmaking agencies,” said Mr Youl.


Melbourne Cup spend – TAB outlets

Cup Day attendance

Melbourne Cup Carnival attendance



















































While attendance is trending downwards, an increase in tourist visitors is boosting The Carnival’s contribution to the Victorian economy. According to the Victorian Racing Club, the Melbourne Cup Carnival is expected to have generated $444.5 million for the Victorian economy in 2017, up 22% from 2013.

In 2017, visitors from North America rose by 95.3% from the previous year, while visitors from Asia and Europe increased by 60.8% and 11.7%, respectively. Melbourne Cup Carnival attendance by international tourists is projected to rise again in 2018.

The weak Australian dollar has supported inbound tourism in 2018. The latest data from Tourism Australia reports a 5.5% increase in visitor arrivals in August compared to the same month in 2017.

While the digital economy has created new opportunities for The Horse and Sports Betting industry and Melbourne Cup Carnival, stakeholders may be concerned with declining domestic attendances.

“The Victorian Racing Club has suggested it may look to further promote the race in suburban and regional areas in an attempt to encourage wider engagement in the day. Finding the balance between a community affair and an international event will likely prove challenging to event organisers in the coming years,” said Mr Youl.    

IBISWorld Industry Reports used in this release:

  • Horse and Sports Betting in Australia
  • Horse and Dog Racing in Australia
  • Tabcorp Holdings Limited (TAH)

For more information, to obtain industry reports, or to speak with an analyst, please contact:

McKenna Moroz

IBISWorld Media Relations Representatives – Anne Wild & Associates Pty Ltd
Tel: +61 2 9440 0414
Mobile: 0431 781 445