The Australian

reports today that British bookies Betfair are promising to invest more
than $50 million in hi-tech infrastructure and a second global
headquarters in Tasmania. Betfair and their local partner – one PBL –
are also offering a multi-million-dollar annual licence fee to the
state government and predictable promise of hundreds of new jobs.

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon confirmed yesterday his Cabinet is set to
consider a proposal to grant a licence to operate in Australia from the
Apple Isle. As The Oz
said yesterday, the move will break the monopoly of regulated TABs and
on-course bookmakers. The national daily also reported on a meeting
between Lennon and our old friend James Packer in Hobart last week.

The local Libs are kicking up a predictable row, whining on behalf of
the shonks and spivs who make up the perpetually business welfare
hungry local racing “industry”. But there’s some interesting dimensions
to their complaints.

Opposition Leader Rene Hidding says Lennon wants to break ranks with
the rest of the nation and grant Betfair a licence “to help fund
election pork-barrelling”. Would that be an early election? An early
election with the coffers topped up with around $50 million by PBL and
a partner in a betting business? Fascinating. And quite possibly too
damn clever by half.