Australia Bookies Not Hurt Yet By Sagging Economy

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THE global economic crisis is not preventing Australian punters from having a flutter on the country's biggest horse race, the Melbourne Cup, according to bookmakers who spoke with the Australian news.

That publication claims that, while organisers admit corporate interest in Tuesday's event has been flat, bookmakers insisted that most Australians have defied the gloom generated by financial meltdown ahead of the meeting billed as "the race that stops a nation''.

"Business has been great -- betting on the Melbourne Cup's showing no sign of slowing down,'' said Neil Evans of online bookmaker Centrebet.

"We're traditionally an industry that's been regarded as pretty bullet-proof when it comes to tough economic times because we're a relatively cheap form of entertainment for people who are down on their luck.

Almost $160 million in bets were placed with off-track betting agencies in Victoria and New South Wales states last year, although the figure climbs considerably when online betting and office sweepstakes are included.

Robert Nason, managing director of wagering at betting agency TABcorp, said similar figures were expected this year, citing strong turnover at lead up races in the Melbourne Spring Carnival.

"We're not expecting the economic crisis to have a big impact,'' he said.

Neil Sands, http://www.news.com.au/

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