For seven months online betting exchange Betfair has waded through a flood of opposition to its bid for an Australian license. The wait is almost over, but the opposition certainly is not.
Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon, who has been very open about his support of the company, today announced his Cabinet's intention to introduce legislation into Parliament that would potentially permit the licensing of betting exchanges in Australia.
If Betfair makes a convincing enough argument to Parliament, it will become the first betting exchange licensed in Australia, paving the way for other operators to obtain licenses on Australian soil.
For the moment, Betfair is cautiously optimistic.
"It’s obviously very good news, but it's not over yet," said Mark Davies, Betfair's director of communications. "We need to persuade the guys in the upper house in the Tasmanian Parliament. We're happy to explain why we could use (the license), but it's certainly a significant step for us."
Racing organizations in the region, such as Racing Victoria, the Australian Racing Board and the Tasmanian Thoroughbred Racing Council, have freely voiced their opposition to the license, stating it would sully the integrity of the Australian horseracing industry. Unkind words, like "pariah," have been tossed around frequently
Betfair, nevertheless, does not appear to be shaken by the resistance.
"The government has made its intentions absolutely clear," Davies said. "Everybody said we'd lose at the federal government level, and we won there. They said we'd lose at the state level, and we won there. So, it's certainly a good step that we've taken, but we've got an important job to do now in persuading the members of the legislative council."
The next stage is for Lennon to present the legislation to Parliament, which could happen as early as next week.
Davies is confident that it will be a smooth process, but he is also aware that it will take work on Betfair's part.
"They are entirely independently minded people," he said in reference to the Tasmanian Parliament. "And our experience of independent people is that they have exclusively come down on our side. We're certainly not complacent about it. We know we’ve got a job to do in telling them our story, and it's going to be for them to decide, on the basis of the evidence that they hear, what they think the outcome should be."
Kerry Packer, whose Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. stands to benefit through its exclusive partnership with Betfair in Australia, called the potential licensing of Betfair Australia a win-win situation for all parties involved.
"Tasmania will benefit, the racing industry will benefit, punters will benefit and Betfair Australia will benefit," Packer said.
Representatives from Lennon's office, Racing Victoria and the Australian Racing Board could not be reached for comment.
is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.