ODDS ON: Tony Darragh will be a certain punter on Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.
ODDS ON: Tony Darragh will be a certain punter on Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.

The cup still runneths over

FANCY a Melbourne Cup flutter this Tuesday? You won’t be alone with many workplaces planning sweeps and TABs gearing up for the country’s biggest annual day of gambling.

Tony ‘Speed’ Darragh of Goonellabah has regularly bet on the race that stops a nation for years.

“But I haven’t spent as much in the last few years,” he said. “Some years I would spend up to $1800 on the one race with trifectas and mystery trifectas and God knows what.”

“This year I will only spend about $30.”

Still, household expenditure figures compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal it’s not just one day a year that Aussies love to play a game of chance.

“Each year, the average family’s outlays on gambling almost match electricity, gas and water bills combined,” CommSec chief economist Craig James said. “In fact gambling exceeded spending on utilities only up until recently.”

Last financial year, families gambled almost $2300, or $44 a week – defined as net losses from gambling.

Mr Darragh compares his bets as ‘small change’ compared with a lot of others, but reckons having a wager on the gee-gees is a national pastime.

He has been having a regular punt for about 20 years and said that hasn’t changed despite all the talk of The Great Global Recession.

Yesterday when The Northern Star caught up with Mr Darragh, he had just placed a bet on a horse because the name appealed to his sense of humour – The Croocked Chook. (It won.)

“I only bet small but I bet often. If I’m having a good day, and luck is going my way, I might have a go at the dogs” Mr Darragh said, conceding he has lost more than he has won.

“I would have a bet every day. You talk about it with your mates a fair bit.”

The breakdown of household spending threw up some other surprising facts.

For example, families spend more on perfumes and cosmetics, than they do on water – even though the drought has caused a massive water shortage.

Perhaps one encouraging aspect of the selected spending figures is that Australians give on average $860 a year to charities, an outlay that exceeds our spending on doctor or dentist bills, hairdressing or water rates.



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