Major changes have been proposed to strengthen the financial position of the Totalisator Agency Board and to enable punters to bet on a wider range of sports.
The changes are in an Acts Amendment and Repeal Bill introduced into State Parliament today by Racing and Gaming Minister Pam Beggs.
Key parts of the amendments are:
· To allow the TAB to set up reserve accounts.
· To lower TAB commission rates so returns to punters can be increased through combined TAB pools with other States.
· To allow on-course betting with bookmakers on a range of State, national and international sporting events.
· To allow unrestricted cross-code betting by bookmakers.
· To repeal several Acts that date to last century.
Mrs Beggs said reserve accounts for the TAB would provide much needed stability for the TAB's distributions to the racing codes.
"In the past virtually all available funds have been returned to industry so that in good years the codes received a higher level of funds but in bad years they received less," she said.
Mrs Beggs said combined pools with other States would result in higher dividends to punters and arrest the trend for bigger punters to operate accounts on interstate TABs.
On-course betting on other sports would put Western Australian bookmakers on equal footing with their counterparts in Melbourne and Darwin where the practice was well established.
Sports on which bets would be accepted would be approved by the Minister for Racing and Gaming and published in the Government Gazette.
Mrs Beggs said these would be restricted to sports of significance where there was little or no opportunity for interference with the result.
"The types of events include AFL Football, interstate and international cricket, Wimbledon tennis, Olympic and Commonwealth Games, international golf and so on," she said.
"The new service to the punter will help increase attendances at race courses and therefore further assist racing clubs."
It also would stem the flow of funds to bookies in other States and Territories.
Unnecessary legislation such as the Totalisator Acts of 1883 and 1889 and the Totalisator Regulation Act 1911 would be repealed.
This would do away with the need to licence totes each year and necessary regulations would be incorporated into the Betting Control Act.
Current licence fees collected, totalling about $50,000 a year, would be abolished as the fees did not justify the work involved.
"As a package, the proposed changes present an opportunity to review and simplify a big part of the legislation covering betting practices and offers valuable measures aimed at providing a better deal for punters and more simple practices for the industry," Mrs Beggs said.