MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CEO
POWER SCORE: 1,004
POSITION LAST YEAR: 20
CLAIMS TO FAME
- Almost 30 years of industry experience in England, South Africa and Australia
- Heads Australia’s biggest racing and wagering company
TABCORP HOLDINGS CEO David Attenborough is on his way out, if slowly, having delayed his promised retirement in 2021 until Tabcorp completes a demerger of its lotteries and keno business and its wagering, media and gaming arm.
The demerger – possibly followed by divestment of one of the arms – comes amid several takeover offers and follows years of investor unease over under-performance of the wagering and gaming side of the business in a near-saturated field of aggressive, innovative corporate bookmakers. Once the dominant player in Australia’s wagering field, Tabcorp’s sportsbook lost its market share lead this year to Sportsbet with the latter now holding 47% to TAB’s 39%.
Notwithstanding a return to profit in financial year 2021, the overall decline of the AU$11.5 billion Australian gaming giant’s wagering competitiveness contrasts markedly with excitement over its merger with lotteries behemoth Tatts Group under Attenborough’s watch only four years ago.
Other challenges are also on the way, not least heavier restrictions or a possible ban on credit cards for online gaming, which Tabcorp has broadly supported.
Attenborough’s delayed retirement will have seen him in Tabcorp’s top job for at least 12 years, an outstanding contribution to the Australian gambling industry by any measure, following respected contributions to the industry in South Africa and England.
Eventually, however, history will show his rise was girded in part by Tabcorp’s monopoly privileges in almost all states and territories, and that bona fide competition prior to and during the pandemic brought the company back down to earth – and split it back into two.
For the full list of 2021 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.