Monday, January 16, 2006Contact: Andrew Harding, ARB
0061.2.9551 7700
Tasmanian Betting Exchange Licence

The Chairman of the Australian Racing Board, Andrew Ramsden, has responded to today’s announcement by the Tasmanian Gaming Commission that it has issued a licence to the PBL and Sporting Exchange Limited consortium.

The decision by the Tasmanian Gaming Commission to issue this licence was a foregone conclusion in November last year when the Premier announced his Government’s Deed of Agreement with the consortium. It comes as no surprise, but it cannot fail to leave a sour taste in the mouth of anyone who genuinely cares about the future of Australian racing.

Of the places we would compare ourselves with: Hong Kong; Japan; Singapore; South Africa; France; the US – none of these countries have licensed betting exchanges and their racing authorities reject the betting exchange model of wagering.

Within Australia, 7 States and Territories have listened carefully to the racing industry’s integrity concerns and given a resounding no to betting exchanges. One State has looked at the issue in purely selfish terms. It bears remembering that 99.9% of the intended business of any exchange licensed in Tasmania will be on races that are run in other parts of Australia. In effect, what Tasmania seems to think it can do is ‘come in on the grouter’ – set itself up to take taxes and fee payments on the back of someone else’s efforts.

We will be looking very closely at the licence conditions that the Tasmanian Gaming Commission has imposed, so far as these relate to the integrity of racing. We made detailed submissions to the Commission on what was required in this regard and if they have not been adequately addressed then we will have to consider our options. The Tasmanian Government promised to ‘raise the bar’ of probity and integrity, and the job of developing the necessary regulatory framework was given to the TGC. We want to see this promise honoured, and we’ve done everything we can to assist the Commission with advice on what is required. Unfortunately, communication is not the Commission’s strong suit, but we’ll wait to see what they reveal.”

For Information, most Australian States have in place legislation that prohibits advertising by any wagering operator that is not licensed in that State. The NSW legislation that contains these advertising restrictions was upheld as constitutionally valid by the Federal Court in 2003.

In 2005, the Victorian Government introduced new legislation making it a criminal offence to publish Victorian race fields without authorisation. No betting exchanges have been granted interim approval under this legislation to publish Victorian race fields, and those exchanges that were taking bets on Victorian races have stopped doing so since this legislation became effective. Elsewhere in Australia: the South Australian Government has circulated a draft of this legislation which will be enacted in the first 2006 sittings; the Western Australian Government has announced its intention to introduce this legislation in its Parliament’s Autumn sittings; and NSW and Qld Governments also have this legislation under consideration.

Queensland authorities have announced that the Interactive Gambling (Player Protection) Act makes it unlawful for residents to use a betting exchange, irrespective of whether it is licensed in another State or Territory. The Australian Bookmakers’ Association has drawn attention to legislation that may be to the same effect in other States and Territories

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