Zeljko Ranogajec Big Australian Punter
Zeljko Ranogajec Accounts For More Than 30% Of Betfair’s Betting
For many years, the proceeds from punting of every sort were not taxed, being considered as income earned from a hobby.
It is now completely logical to observe that some have turned gambling into an efficient business model, and a punter named Zeljko Ranogajec is a prime example.
That would seem to be changing as modern technology has made it possible to gamble with a high level of sophistication and to an extent that was unimaginable prior to the modern computer.
Zeljko Ranogajec has been investigated on numerous occasions over the past 25 years to determine whether or not his activities could be characterized as a business, but has escaped unscathed on every one of those occasions, with the ATO ruling that he was not engaged in a business.
ATO Launches Audit
Late in 2012, however, the Australian Taxation Office launched another audit of Ranogajec and this time it appears that they have changed course and overturned years of legal precedent and found a way to make gambling winnings taxable. Or, as they might say in Scotland if they were being sticklers for grammatical correctness, the jig is up.
The ATO’s position is that Ranogajec heads a syndicate of gamblers that does indeed cross the line from hobby to business.
Pragmatic if nothing else, Zeljko Ranogajec has agreed to make a “donation” to the government to the tune of a reported $700 million, spread out over 12 easy payments of just under $60 million, rather than pay the army of lawyers that would be necessary to litigate the case and could potentially, if a ruling were to go against him, cost him even more.
If a person of his means could be described as a victim, it would be only from the perspective that a government desperate for revenues has found a worthy source in Ranogajec.
It would seem that perhaps Zeljko Ranogajec was guilty of not making the proper campaign contributions in the correct proportions at the appropriate time.
On the tax man’s side of the equation, all appearances is that Ranogajec and his hobbyist associates engaged in extreme measures to make their efforts appear to be casual and un-business like, but they did use highly sophisticated computer software to identify punting opportunities with a high potential for big profits.
Employs Hundreds Of People
Zeljko Ranogajec punting entity employs several hundred people in three different companies, which objectively falls well outside the boundaries of what could legitimately be considered a hobby.
On balance, while alarmists may raise the hue and cry that the government is trying to wedge its way into a piece of every winning punt, it should be remembered that as times and technology change, old laws and their interpretations must be updated. In reality, its seems as though the ATO is only interested in the really big punters that have taken the time honored traditions of the punt and made it into a highly efficient business.
Unlike some of his predecessors who basked in the limelight for their punting exploits, Ranogajec would seem to be a poster child for introversion.
Ranogajec Is A Ghost
Born in Tasmania of Croatian descent, Zeljko Ranogajec is never seen at race tracks or gambling houses. Instead of earning a nickname such as Fast Eddie, Filipino Fireball or Hollywood, he is known as the Loch Ness Monster because it is doubtful if he ever truly has been seen. He has never submitted to an interview and the measures to which he has gone to protect the privacy of himself, his family and his confederates is worthy of the most sophisticated government spy agency.
This standoff approach to wagering has, if nothing else, provided him with protection against any allegations of personally tampering with the outcomes of any of his betting interests, whether they be horse racing, sports, or the stock market. Given the amount of his turnover, this would seem prudent, because wildly varying estimates put his involvement between $1-3 billion annually.
Other sources speculate that Ranogajec bets on every thoroughbred race in Australia.
His preferred tactic is similar to that of another reclusive punter from an earlier time, Fred Angles, but instead of using multiple telephones to bet on up to 50 races in the last five minutes before the jump, Ranogajec uses computers to line up hundreds of bets with the TAB board, placing his preferences in the final seconds before a race. Just as was the case with Angles, other bettors cannot duplicate his wagers and there is not time for bookmakers to react to his huge wagers. He also likes to combine low risk win and place bets with exotics.
Zeljko Ranogajec is said to account for more than 30 percent of Betfair’s operation in the southern hemisphere. He is also fanatical about the details, much like Angles.
It is purported that a paper copy of his preparations for the 2005 Melbourne Cup was almost 3 centimetres thick.
He seemingly missed an important variable for that event, however, by failing to anticipate that Lee Freedman would threaten to hold Makybe Diva out of the race if the track were not watered. Ranogajec had big money laid against the mare, proving that perhaps he is both real and human, after all.
Monsieur Zeljko Ranogajec has definitely upped the ante where punting is concerned. The amount of money he commits on an annual basis staggers the imagination.
His willingness to ferret out the best opportunities for profits, even if those opportunities may be found on remote tracks, and to spread his activities around in such a way as to maintain the odds where he needs them to be, have obviously supplied him with a winning formula.
Zeljko Ranogajec has amassed a fortune through his efforts, a fortune so vast that even the unfortunate attention of the ATO and the huge settlement he paid to persuade them to call off the dogs has not prevented his from conducting business, excuse us, hobby as usual.