Australian gambler Zeljko Ranogajec is betting a portion of his considerable bankroll on the British Racing industry.
Initially picked up by British newspaper The Times, a May 17 report suggests that Ranogajec is one of the people behind a new tote betting service known as Britbet.
With Betfred’s monopoly on trackside pool betting set to end in July, the subsidiary of Colossus Bets will go live at 55 venues across the UK.
Colossus Bet Subsidiary Looking to Become a Behemoth in the UK
With Ranogajec being one of two major shareholders in Colossus Bets, the move will put him on the other side of the betting window for a change.
Despite being something of a recluse, the 56-year-old Tasmanian is known as the biggest bettor in the world. Using a network of math experts, market analysts and players, Ranogajec once told a federal court that his estimated annual turnover from betting is $1 billion.
Since making the statement more than ten years ago, the sports betting pro has been subject of public scrutiny from a number of quarters, including the Australian Taxation Office. In 2012, Ranogajec along with 15 members of his syndicate were accused of owing $600 million in unpaid taxes.
The matter was eventually settled with undisclosed terms and Ranogajec moved to the Isle of Man. Since then, the odds expert has turned his hand to the business side of the industry and will now be looking to capture a slice of the British racing market.
Tote betting at UK racecourses was privatised in 2011 when Betfred bought the Totepool brand for $469 million. As part of the deal, the British operator was given the exclusive rights to run the pool betting service for seven years.
With that licence set to expire on July 12, Britbet will go live the following day, a move which will make Australia’s most prolific gambler a major rival to every betting operator in the UK.
UK’s FOBT Move Could Force Change in Australia
In other betting news, anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello has called for the government to follow the UK’s lead in regulating electronic betting machines.
“I welcome what the UK has done and think Australia should follow. If you ever ask the public, it is always over 70 per cent we hate them. So, it is really politicians within the industry who are opposing what the public wants,” Costello said in a press release.
With the British government cutting the maximum bet per round to £2 ($3.50), Costello and independent MP Andrew Wilkie believe a $1 limit should now be applied to pokies across Australia.