Court Ruling A Spur For Betfair
Friday March 28, 2008
THE Tasmanian-based betting exchange, Betfair, wants to strike a national agreement with state governments and racing jurisdictions after its victory over the West Australian Government in the High Court yesterday.The High Court ruled that WA legislation introduced in January 2006 outlawing betting exchanges in that state was unconstitutional because it imposed "protectionist burdens on interstate trade" when section 92 of the Constitution provides that "trade, commerce and intercourse among the states shall be absolutely free".The ruling also means that the WA race fields legislation, under which publishing or making available WA race fields without approval, is now invalid. This has implications for Victoria, NSW and Queensland, which have tried to harness the operations of Betfair, as well as the Darwin-based corporate bookmakers,Not surprisingly, Tabcorp, which has had a virtual monopoly of off-course betting with its "gentleman's agreement" with the Victorian and NSW governments, came out swinging after the judgement was released.A Tabcorp statement said: "The High Court decision creates further risk to the future funding of the racing industry. The TABs generate the vast majority of funding for the industry, allowing us to create some of the best racing in the world."Corporate bookmakers and Betfair do not contribute on an equal basis and further leakage to interstate players will further erode racing's funding base."It is clear that state governments are rapidly losing control over their wagering markets. The decision will have implications for the future industry structure and licence values in the wagering market."Betfair's director of corporate and business affairs, Andrew Twaits, said it wanted to "shut the door on all the hysteria" that arose with any discussion about betting exchanges."We have always wanted to contribute to an equable funding model and we will try and arrange meetings to that end with all the state governments and racing jurisdictions," Twaits said.He disputed a claim by Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'Landys that Betfair had always wanted to pay a smaller fee than "any other parties" to operate on NSW racing.Bernard Saundry, acting chief executive of Racing Victoria Ltd, said yesterday that RVL would await advice from the Victorian Government in relation to any implications arising from the High Court decision in respect to the Victorian race fields legislation.Saundry said RVL was not a party to the WA proceedings and had approved Betfair's use of Victorian race fields - along with more than 200 other interstate-based bookmakers - since 2006.
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