Among the propaganda offered up by the boosters of Betfair – the UK based online betting exchange giant that’s working with the Packer family to gain a state or territory license to set up in Australia – is the claim that the Blair Government and Betfair are one big happy family.

Yes, it’s true that Betfair pours money into an otherwise ailing UK racing industry in the form of sponsorship and a levy, and it also pays 15% of its gross commission revenue to the British Treasury. But yesterday The Guardian reported that Betfair has also now established an office in Malta, which the paper suggests “could eventually lead to the company moving its hugely successful business offshore. The move is sure to be seen as a warning to the Treasury that it will not tolerate any attempt to introduce punitive new taxes on its revenue”.

While Betfair says its new office is intended purely to host a new betting product to be launched later this year, The Guardian points out that if the company is forced to pay the Government more tax Malta might become an attractive alternative base.

British bookies, meanwhile, are now awaiting the findings from a Treasury review into their complaint that Betfair is already getting favourable treatment from the Blair Government. Should the review findings be adverse to Betfair, Malta beckons. And the Australian Government should also heed the warning – Betfair will be a pushover if it’s ever permitted to operate here.

You can read The Guardian report here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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