WAGERING operator Tabcorp is experiencing strong growth in its digital business as more punters place bets via mobile phones.
Tabcorp on Thursday reported a net profit of $72.9 million for the first six months of the 2012-13 financial year, down 61.5 per cent on the previous corresponding period. The result was skewed by the loss of the lucrative right to operate poker machines.
Tabcorp and rival Tatts lost their duopoly to operate poker machines in Victoria - outside of those operated by Crown in Melbourne's Crown casino - in August 2012.
New revenue-sharing arrangements under Tabcorp's wagering and betting licence in Victoria also skewed the result. Under the arrangements, Tabcorp was obliged to share more of its proceeds from wagering with the Victorian racing industry.
Tabcorp's revenues from continuing operations for the six months to December 31 rose 2.1 per cent to $1.03 billion. Digital turnover in the first half grew 15.9 per cent, encompassing sales via the tab.com.au website and the company's wagering apps for smartphones and tablets. Wagering via mobile devices accounted for 28 per cent of Tabcorp's digital turnover in the first half.
"There's always been a tendency for Generation X and Y to be early adopters of technology," Tabcorp chief executive David Attenborough said. "People are getting used to transacting over their phones with the banks, with retailers and certainly with us."
Tabcorp said the continued transfer to digital betting and a soft retail trading environment were reflected in turnover at TAB outlets. New South Wales retail TAB turnover grew 0.9 per cent to $2.04 billion, and Victorian retail TAB turnover fell 1.9 per cent to $1.57 billion.
Mr Attenborough said the group's first-half results reflected the biggest changes to Victoria's gambling industry in 20 years and that Tabcorp was the biggest player involved in the changes.
He said Tabcorp had succeeded in making a smooth transition from its poker machines business to a new business that provides support services for the new operators of the poker machines.
Total wagering revenue, before the allocation to the Victorian racing industry, rose 6.2 per cent to $1.01 billion. After the allocation, it fell 5 per cent to $816.1 million.
Keno revenue grew 15.3 per cent to $106.5 million; revenue from media and international operations lifted 8.1 per cent to $101.5 million; and Tabcorp Gaming Solutions (TGS) generated $37.8 million.
In the second half of the financial year, Mr Attenborough said, Tabcorp was focused on strengthening digital channels, managing expenses and lifting its business in fixed-odds betting, keno, TGS, and international operations.