A record number of bets were placed at this year's Melbourne Cup, Austalia's most prestigious annual thoroughbred horse race. Punters from across the country and beyond placed a staggering volume of wagers, and sportsbooks saw their computer-filled data rooms heave under the sheer pressure.
As one information officer for a well-known Australian bookmaker said, the five minutes before the race is "when the beads of sweat start forming."
"There is no other business like this in Australia, having this one event where the time is so critical and demand is so simultaneous," he noted.
Record Betting Numbers
According to data recently published, in the time immediately leading up to this year's Melbourne Cup, one sportsbook saw 850 bets places in its busiest second, which was a jump of 70% compared to last year. The record for the busiest single minute was also beaten by 30% when a staggering 26,000 bets were placed.
The same sportsbook reported that its busiest second saw 17,000 transactions take place - including all wagers, deposits, withdrawals and returns. It also said that 360 million transactions were made on the day of the Melbourne Cup.
"In that one 30 minute period, things go off the Richter scale," noted the bookmaker, saying, though, that its systems "didn't creak".
"The systems we've created allowed us to have the confidence that ‘we've got this'," he said.
Some bookies weren't so lucky, and one popular one saw its website and app crash during the lead up to the race.
All the group could do was apologize for the inconvenience and frustration caused.
Bookies Up Ante on Advertising
The Melbourne Cup was not without controversy when it came to marketing by bookmakers. Complaints were received that some Australian bookies sent unsolicited texts, although the clear majority of ads were sent to those who had already signed up to receive marketing messages through website or social media activity.
A wide range of marketing tactics were used, from humorous advertisements, to ad blitzes, free tips and social media campaigns. Punters were offered special offers, cash refunds on the day of the race, bonus bets and more.