Betfair Discussed again in Tasmania

14 July 2005

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon met this afternoon with representatives of the Tasmanian horse racing industry to discuss the potential licensing of British betting exchange Betfair.

Lennon stated following the meeting, "Today was really an opportunity for the government to provide detail to the industry about the discussions we've been having over the possibility of issuing a license (to Betfair) in Tasmania."

The industry has strongly opposed the issuing of such a license, but at least one racing official--Geoff Harper, chairman of the Tasmanian Thoroughbred Racing Council--appears to have softened his stance coming out of the meeting.

Yesterday Harper told reporters that he has "great fears for the Tasmanian racing industry on a number of those issues (integrity, ongoing management and the financial returns to Tasmanian racing)."

But Harper seemed more at ease with his concerns following today's meeting.

"The premier has confirmed he's prepared to consult all levels of the industry--both national racing bodies and the local bodies, trainers and owners," he said. "We'll go away and take the percentages we've got, find out from our colleagues interstate what the current turnover of Betfair is. Then, working on that turnover, we'll be able to work out the benefits to the Tasmanian racing industry."

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in Tasmania continues to resist the expansion of all gambling opportunities, claiming that the cost of social problems will far outweigh any benefits in revenue. Opposition parties are also providing resistance by arguing that there should be no expansion of gambling without an adequate social impact study.

Lennon stated that September is the earliest time that the state's parliament could consider issuing a license Betfair; his government has been in discussion with Betfair on the matter since April of this year.

The governments of other Australian states have threatened retaliatory action against Tasmania if it were to license a betting exchange. Such actions could include the loss of Sky Channel coverage of local racing, expulsion from the SuperTAB wagering pool and the exclusion of Tasmanian horses from competing in other states.

Betfair has a joint venture agreement in place with Australian media corporation PBL to collaborate on any betting exchange operating under a license obtained in Australia by Betfair.