The TAB is hailing an increased spend on the Melbourne Cup as a sign of growing consumer confidence in Taranaki.
And Taranaki's economic development agency says even though more traditional economic indicators actually show a drop in consumer confidence recently, the TAB's conclusions are consistent with strong economic growth in the region.
Taranaki punters hit TAB retail outlets to the tune of $366,580 this Melbourne Cup day, an increase of 11 per cent on the $326,638 put down the year before.
The TAB says betting through personal accounts would have followed a similar upward trend.
Nationally, it was the biggest day of betting in six decades of operations for the TAB, with the $20 million wagered well up on last year's $16.5m.
A TAB spokesman said at the time of the 2011 Melbourne Cup the global financial crisis was biting hard.
"We've found betting levels on Melbourne Cup day to be a really accurate proxy or gauge of sentiment and confidence both nationally and regionally, so things look to be well and truly on the up in Taranaki," he said.
Venture Taranaki communications manager Antony Rhodes said the agency didn't have any data showing direct economic correlation Melbourne Cup betting levels and economic growth.
However, the October edition of the organisation's Taranaki Trends economic report showed consumer confidence in the Taranaki/Manawatu/Whanganui region had dipped slightly.
The same report however, showed Taranaki's economic growth lead the nation at three per cent in the last quarter.
"The sun has recently returned to Taranaki skies, our mountain is visible more often than not, the gardens are in bloom and Christmas decorations are starting to emerge," Mr Rhodes said.
"It may be the Melbourne Cup leverages these joys of spring and the opportunity for a social event as much as it indicates a broader economic resurgence."
The owner of one TAB outlet, Ann Wilson of the Salty Dog in Moturoa, confirmed she had noticed a big increase of patrons on Cup day.
"It was better than the last two years, we were packed out and people were queued outside the door," she said.
She said she had noticed an increase in confidence amongst the gamblers.
"The TAB has definitely been picking up for the past three months, we've seen a big difference."
But at Rough Habits in Hawera, owner Brent Cudby wasn't so sure.
His bar was full for the Cup itself, but no more than usual, and he didn't expect it to flow on to other race meetings.
Problem Gambling Foundation New Zealand marketing and communications manager Andree Froude said the organisation was not as worried about one-off events such as the Melbourne Cup as it was about pokie machines.
- Taranaki Daily News
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