More news on the problems Tabcorp is having with its new wagering system in NSW outlets.

The rollout of its Bravo system, the one used in the Victorian TAB outlets, has been halted to allow software engineers to tinker with it to improve its abysmal performance.

Bravo is the software program which processes bets and it has not done well in NSW.

Besides not printing the name of the horse in every bet, it only allows one “standout” bet in multiples such as quinellas (first and second in exact order). Under the old system you could nominate more horses as a stand out and combine them with other choices.

It has also changed the language of betting: replacing the world “standout” with a concept known as a “roving banker”. Are Victorians really that barking mad they would not understand the accepted terminology in NSW wagering?

It is a change that has upset and confused NSW punters, some of whom are old enough to remember the joys of the friendly SP bloke in the back bar!

Bravo is at the heart of the processing of bets in the Victorian TAB. Its introduction in NSW was highlighted in Tabcorp’s takeover documents for the TAB Holdings bid four years ago. It has taken that long for the slumbering management to get around to making the introduction.

Here’s what Tabcorp said in its takeover documents for the NSW TAB:

TABCORP intends to consolidate the wagering information technology operations of Tab and TABCORP over a three year period onto a consolidated wagering information technology platform.

Subject to a review of Tab’s wagering host system, TABCORP intends to utilise TABCORP’s existing internally developed Bravo wagering software for this purpose. As a part of this process, some software development for the existing Tab terminals will be undertaken.

The approval of the New South Wales Department of Gaming and Racing will be required in order to migrate Tab to the Bravo wagering software.

But that wasn’t the story and Tabcorp was silent for three years until the company went off the rails in the closing months of 2006 and this continued into the current financial year, resulting in the 21% drop in earnings and the departure of Matthew Slatter as CEO.

Part of the problem was the poor returns from the NSW TAB and the company undertaking a $50 million three year upgrade plan. Funny, that was supposed to happen after the takeover was bedded down and be in place by now.

In late March, after Slatter left, the stand-in boss, Elmer Funke Kupper made a major presentation on fixing up the problems and the joys of casinos and wagering.

Here’s what he said about NSW:

Finalise integration between NSW and VIC: System integration Sept. 2006; retail implementation in NSW by July 2007; took longer and cost more to deliver; adverse P&L and customer impact; Improved platform to deliver product (Flexi, First 4) and channels (self service).

Nope, the Bravo system is on hold as is the integration of the two state-based systems.

No wonder the likes of PBL and Macquarie Bank are sniffing around.

PBL is hamstrung because it can’t own any other gaming or gambling business in Victoria because it owns Crown. The Star City and Queensland Casinos would be its targets but not the NSW TAB which really needs to be linked into Victoria.

Tattersall’s might want to bid but it has just paid half a billion for the Golden casket in Queensland, has joined Macquarie Bank in spending around $120 million buying a gaming group in Britain, and has to renew its Victorian lotteries licence next year which will cost an awful lot of money.

Tabcorp has to renew its NSW licence for Star City this year, which will cost money if it is successful and hang on to its Victorian wagering licence which although due in 2012, the Victorian Government wants it fixed up as soon as possible.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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