Racing and Gaming Minister Mark McGowan has described the Tasmanian Government’s decision to issue a licence to the UK-based betting exchange Betfair as grossly irresponsible and reckless.
Mr McGowan said the decision was risky and could lead to a loss of integrity in the racing industry, which could see millions of dollars lost in stakes, distribution and jobs.
“This is a short-sighted decision by a Government that is after a quick buck,” he said.
The Minister said the State Government had approached the Howard Government a number of times to take action by amending the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 to outlaw betting exchanges.
“Their refusal to intervene is gutless and displays a blatant disregard for the racing industry and the people who work in it,” he said.
“The Howard Government is sitting on its hands and by doing so, failing all those people - often low paid - who work in the racing industry.
“It is a fundamentally Australian tradition to place a bet on the races and by refusing to act, the Howard Government is risking the future integrity of that tradition.”
Mr McGowan said betting exchanges allowed punters to back a horse to lose - striking at the very heart of Australia’s fair betting system and creating the potential for corruption.
“If people cannot be sure the system is fair, they simply will not bet any more,” he said.
“The economic impact of this is impossible to measure. However, based on a rough estimate, if there was a 10 per cent loss of integrity in the industry, there would be a potential loss of TAB revenue to Western Australia of about $15million.
“This would see reduced capital expenditure, reduced stakes and in the most extreme case, fewer racing clubs.
“This would flow on to reduce employment opportunities in the racing industry.
“Considering Tasmania earns about 90 per cent of its wagering turnover from race meets in other States and is heavily subsidised by the taxpayers of WA through the Commonwealth grants commission process - we would expect a more considered approach.”
Mr McGowan said the decision would also see the State lose a potential $10million per year in taxes.
“That means less money for hospitals, schools and police,” he said.
The Minister said he would seek to introduce legislation into the Parliament to prevent the unauthorised use of WA race field information.
“This will prevent unauthorised betting operators from offering bets on WA races,” he said.
“If they do not know the field or the odds, they will not be able to offer bets.”
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