Monday June 3,2013 :  NEW TATTS GROUP CEO HAS AN EYE ON INTERNET GAMBLING
 
Past management experience has imbued the importance of online operations in Robbie Cook
 
Six months after being appointed as chief executive officer of the major Aussie betting group Tatts, Robbie Cooke has his eye on expanding the internet operations of the company, reports the Courier-Mail newspaper.
 
Cooke's appreciation of the value that internet gambling can bring to the company's activities is partly based on his previous management experience at online accommodation business Wotif, as he commented this week:
 
"Wotif really opened my eyes to just what it takes to be very effective in a pure online business. It gave me a very good understanding of marketing and the power of marketing and the power of brand, which I think is critical in the wagering space and the lottery space.
 
"Online is the biggest opportunity and how do you make that really work well in the context of the businesses we have?"
 
Cooke hopes to apply the lessons he learned growing the online accommodation provider to his new job presiding over the Tatts Group gambling empire, which has relocated its headquarters from Melbourne to Brisbane…and he says that promoting the brand of the $4 billion group and ramping up its internet muscle are among his top priorities.
 
Pointing out that Tatts has more betting shops dotted across Australia than McDonald's has restaurants, Cooke told the newspaper that the challenge would be to emulate the success of Flight Centre in making land-based and internet-based activities of the company work in harmony.
 
He revealed that Tatts is currently taking a close look at the corporate marketing strategy, adding: "I do think we have very good opportunities to market our brand more effectively."
 
The Courier-Mail reports that online transactions account for 19 percent of wagering revenue and 8 percent of lotteries income at Tatts. The goal is to boost each by 2 to 3 percent a year over the next five years.
 
In order to achieve that, Cooke plans to more than double the IT team, which had fewer than 20 staff when he took office in January 2013.
 
Another 10 staff have already been hired and Cooke expects the team to number around 50 within the next 12 months.
 
The online success of gambling groups like William Hill and Paddy Power will undoubtedly provide inspiration for the Australians.
 
Cooke's experience in the betting field includes six years at Unitab before it merged with Tatts in 2006 and he took the helm at Wotif. The wheel turned full circle when he took over the CEO post at Tatts this year from his old boss at Unitab.
 
Recent growth at Tatts has been boosted by the company's success last November in securing a 40-year lock on the A$427 million lottery business in South Australia, with integration reportedly going smoothly. The group is also a competitor for the 20-year Irish  national lottery licence, thought to be worth around A$400 million.
 
Despite some commercial and politically-inspired business reversals, Tatts remains in good financial shape and is well placed to realise Cooke's ambitions to expand internet operations.
 
"I'm very comfortable with how we're performing … it's a very predictable business," he said.