Phumelela is both a licensed totalisator (tote) and racing operator, and from its inception set about implementing strategies that would enable horseracing to withstand the impact of competition from other forms of gambling and simultaneously create a solid platform for racing's long-term viability.
In order to increase horseracing’s competitiveness, Phumelela has recognised that collaboration and co-operation is vital to address the needs of horseracing as a sport. Accordingly, Gold Circle, Kenilworth Racing and Phumelela have co-operated in several areas - specifically the creation of a combined national tote under the TAB banner and a joint operation called the Tellytrack partnership which manages the production of televised horseracing as both a local (Tellytrack) and export product.
Gold Circle, Kenilworth Racing and Phumelela also manage the production of one national horseracing database, which is the core intellectual property upon which informed betting is based.
Phumelela has made significant strides in broadening its revenue base in terms of:
- * Tote or pools betting on soccer and rugby
- * Its international operations through the establishment of a totalisator on the Isle of Man and through the export of South African horseracing (televised coverage and racing data)
- * Fixed-odds betting opportunities offered through the Group’s wholly owned subsidiary company, Betting World (Pty) Limited (a licensed corporate bookmaking chain)
- * Limited payout machines
In terms of a management agreement concluded with Kenilworth Racing, Phumelela manages the business of horseracing and tote betting in the Western Cape.
Notable accomplishments since inception:
- * Rationalised individual staff infrastructures of the racecourses and other management entities into a single cohesive unit, simultaneously accomplishing massive cost savings and increasing efficiency
- * Constructed a turf racetrack (the Inside Track) on the inside of the existing track (the Standside Track) at Turffontein and a sand racetrack (replaced by grass in 2016) on the inside of the existing turf track at the Vaal, thus doubling the capacity of both venues to stage racing (a turf racetrack in Johannesburg cannot sustain more than 35-odd race meetings annually)
- * National tote pools. Phumelela and Gold Circle began commingling tote pools into single national pools under the TAB banner in April 2002
- * Established Tellytrack, an exclusive television channel for horseracing. All horseracing in South Africa and selected overseas races are screened live on Tellytrack, an independent television channel on the DStv bouquet (channel 239)
- * The introduction of major new events. These included the Triple Crown (Africa's richest series of races for three-year-olds), Champions Day (Africa's richest raceday) and the SANSUI Summer Cup in 1999. Champions Day and the Summer Cup comprise two of the “Big 4” on the South African horseracing calendar.
- * The empowerment process within Phumelela is well advanced. The Black Economic Empowerment Groups' strong representation on the board of directors enables transformation to be driven from board level downwards. Nearly 80% of Phumelela's employees are from previously disadvantaged groups and include a significant representation in junior, middle and senior management. In addition, that percentage is rising as targets set in the company's Employment Equity Plan are attained. Phumelela is also a member of the Corporate SMME Development Forum (CSDF) and its company policy is to maximise purchases from Small, Medium and Micro enterprises (SMMEs) that are owned or controlled by Black business people
- * Made history in October 2002, when successfully commingling TAB betting pools on the Breeders' Cup race meeting at Arlington Park in Chicago in the USA with those of the host tote. The commingling enabled South African horseplayers to bet into the huge USA pools and demonstrated Phumelela's ability to participate on the global horseracing and tote betting stage
- * Expanded tote betting beyond the boundaries of horseracing early in 2003 with the introduction of Soccer 6. Since then TAB has expanded its menu of soccer bets with the introduction of Soccer 1, Soccer 4, Soccer 10, Soccer 13, Soccer SCORE and most recently Soccer 13 Xtra. TAB’s sports offering was expanded with the launch of Rugby 5, an exciting bet on rugby, in 2011.
- * Established a horseracing database in conjunction with Gold Circle and a publishing division, which enables Phumelela to produce its own racing publications. The database and publishing division have provided Phumelela with the ability to transmit racecard information on South African race meetings to anywhere in the world and to receive, and disseminate, details of overseas racing to horseplayers in South Africa. (2002-03).
- * Staged the first all work riders' raceday in January 2005. The race meeting was screened live by SABC 2 and was well received, especially by the work riders who used the occasion to showcase their riding skills
- * Upgraded Kimberley Racecourse, which was renamed Flamingo Park. Key elements of the upgrade included resurfacing the track and additional stabling to accommodate trainers previously stabled at Bloemfontein. The new racing surface at Flamingo Park was officially opened in February 2006.
- * During 2005 the Racing Services Divisions of Phumelela and Gold Circle were combined into the National Racing Bureau under the management of Gold Circle. The National Racing Bureau is responsible for nominations and final declarations of runners in all races in South Africa and compiling the racecard data
- * Investment in technology continued in 2005-06 with the upgrade of the Amtote betting system, the migration of the Management Information System from Oracle to a Microsoft platform and the testing of a comprehensive Business Intelligence Solution
- * In conjunction with the Racing Association, staged the first international jockeys’ competition in South Africa in some 20 years at the Steinhoff Summer Cup race meeting on 29 November 2008. The international jockeys’ challenge is now an annual event
- * In 2014 launched Racing. It’s A Rush in conjunction with other major players in South African horseracing to market the sport of horseracing and promote its core values to all South Africans. It aims to bring horseracing back to the forefront of the lifestyle entertainment industry and has a world-class interactive website and a social media presence