Grafton TAB closed for business
By TONY WHITE
SHORTLY before 9pm on Saturday evening affable Grafton TAB agent Ted Tanner signed off on his last bet. The final wager ended a 22-year era for Bathurst-raised Mr Tanner with the closure of the Grafton agency he has managed since 1984. "It's the end of a long era and a real shame to see it close," Mr Tanner, 65, said. "Grafton, per head of population, has to be one of the best betting towns in Australia. I think they (Tabcorp) will lose a lot of money, but they don't seem to care. "Their policy is to close agencies and use pubs and clubs. It's cheap- er for them that way. I really don't understand it, it's going to be very hard, especially for the old people. "This TAB has been an outlet, a place where they gather, talk about the horses they like and what's happening in their lives and have a bet. The TAB is pushing people on- to the internet and into pubs. It's a terrible shame, especially for the older people. Pubs just can't offer the same service as an agent." Mr Tanner first joined the TAB helping the local agent at Bathurst in 1968. He then started the first agency in Coonabarabran, stayed five years, before he was asked to return to Bathurst 'to sort out a bit of a mess'. "I stayed another six years in Bathurst then applied for the agen- cy in Grafton and I've been here ever since," Mr Tanner said. "I had no intentions of staying
this long, I'd planned to retire, but that's the way it goes." Amazingly, despite daily involve- ment in 'punting paradise', Mr Tan- ner has never bet. "That has always surprised me. Most of the agents I know all bet," he said. "Maybe because I've seen too many people go bad at the ca- per." Over the years Mr Tanner has seen the big punters come and go, sometimes paying out in excess of $50,000 and $60,000 and holding cash wagers of $20,000. "I've seen a lot of the big players come and go, they usually don't last long," Mr Tanner said.