Betfair, Western Australia Row to be Decided Soon

10 December 2007

Betfair's High Court challenge to Western Australia's anti-gambling exchange laws has wrapped up and should see a decision within six months. Indications from the judges show that it may be in favor of the betting exchange.

Betfair counsel made its closing arguments today, saying that WA is in breach of Section 92 of the constitution, which guards freedom of trade between the states.

Meanwhile, WA's main argument was that that the legislation is aimed at protecting the integrity of racing from those who bet on horses to lose.

But Chief Justice Michael Kirby questioned WA's true agenda, reports The Australian.

"What does that demonstrate except that all forms of gambling breed some corruption?" Kirby asked. "The fight is really about what you (WA) can extract from them as their license fee to operate in your state".

Betfair initiated proceedings against WA in February, challenging the country's recently passed anti-betting exchange legislation.

Racing and Gaming Minister Mark McGowan on June 21, 2006 introduced to the state's parliament Bill No. 146, "Betting and Racing Legislation Amendment Bill 2006," prohibiting the operation of betting exchanges. The bill moved to the Legislative Council (upper house) in August and received final approval on Dec. 7.

Betfair Director of Business and Corporate Affairs Andrew Twaits said at the time that the country's legislation prevents WA residents from placing bets with Betfair and, more broadly, prevents betting exchanges from operating in the state.

Betfair is operating in Tasmania, and has been given permission from the Victorian government to publish Victorian race fields.