Aussie is world’s biggest gambler
HE IS the 56-year-old Tasmanian known as the world's biggest gambler - and he's been revealed as the man behind a "high risk" play to transform Britain's racing industry.
The man known as the "Loch Ness monster" and "The Joker" is making headlines in the United Kingdom with his Colossus Bets firm about to shake-up horse race gambling.
Zeljko Ragonajec has previously been identified as the world's biggest punter, wagering up to $1 billion in annual bets and previously making up to eight per cent of Tabcorp's entire wagering turnover.
The Times reports Colossus Bets new venture Britbets will become a major competitor to the Tote service and will have wagering venues at all 55 of the recognised racing venues in the UK.
The report claims the Sydney property baron owns an apartment at the world's most expensive unit block at One Hyde Park in London where similar flats have previously sold for around $180 million.
Despite a public Australian Taxation Office investigation and reports linking him as the central figure in Australia's most secretive gambling syndicate - known as the Punters Club - Ranogajec remains a figure clouded in mystery - as does the size of his reported fortune.
He is believed to have a second identity - using the name John Wilson, his wife Shelley's maiden name.
News Corp reports from almost a decade ago claimed Ranogajec's betting operation had a staff of up to 100 people just to analyse form guides and identify racing and sports betting strategies.
Along with his completely legal gambling empire, Ranogajec is notorious in Australian betting circles for his ability to broker agreements with bookmakers to offer him rebates on his high-stakes bets.
Overseas, Ranogajec has been extended betting rebates of up to 10 per cent of total bets in pool-based betting markets where the bookmaker claims a percentage of the total prize pool before distributing the left over funds to successful punters,
Under the model, Ranogajec and his army of gambling experts only had to break even on their wagering to make a profit made up from their rebate.
Fairfax Media reports Ranogajec and his team are masters of algorithms, sophisticated computer programs and analytics and mathematics to identify paydays in gambling markets.
The same report claims the ATO came after Ranogajec and his Punters Club for a fee of more than $600 million in 2012 - before an undisclosed settlement was reached. The syndicate claimed its betting activity was not an organised business, but a gambling club.
Ranogajec reportedly left Australia after the ATO settlement where he reportedly started up Colossus Bets alongside one other major shareholder shortly after settling in the UK.
That company's new arm Britbet will begin waging trackside throughout the UK in July as the new competition to the privatised Tote betting service.
The service claims to be "for racing" and has stated its intent to re-invest profits back into the sport.
However, not every commentator has been supportive of the new program to challenge the established Tote.
Australian-based TAB chief executive David Attenborough said earlier this month Britbet appears a "high risk" venture.
"It's only three per cent of the total anyway, and now they are going to split the pool," he said, according to racingpost.com.
"That's a really hard model to make money out of."
It's not something Ranogajec has ever struggled with before.