With punters’
pal, Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon, likely to announce today his Government is
giving the green light to license online UK betting exchange Betfair, the
Australian racing industry looks to have finally been outgunned by the
Betfair-PBL alliance for an operational foothold

With virtually
the whole mainland racing industry, including the Tasmanian Thoroughbred
Racing Council, vehemently opposed to the online betting exchange, as well as the totes, a vast
majority of bookies and other state governments, Lennon’s go-it-alone opportunist grab is seen
to imperil the integrity of a local multi-billion dollar industry.

What world
racing sees as the fundamental threat posed by exchange betting is the challenge to
racing’s integrity posed by allowing punters to bet on any horse losing, which has already
led to a whole phalanx of on-going criminal
investigations into betting rorts in the UK. Yet Lennon is determined to thumb his nose at such dangers.

PBL/Betfair have seduced Lennon with an estimated 15% tax on gross
profits from all national racing and sporting events – topped up by a
20% levy on gross profits from Australian horse racing itself. However,
any of this future income stream outlined in the Betfair business plan
that’s been sold to Lennon, is unable to be subjected to any kind of
public or independent Parliamentary scrutiny – because you guessed it –
PBL/Betfair insist on confidentiality!

All is not yet
lost – the license still has to be passed by Parliament but I believe the
Australian Racing Association and the rest of the anti-Betfair lobby
have badly played their cards in the way they have gone about privately lobbying
the Premier and state MPs. It’s all well and good
making veiled threats in the media about taking retaliation if Tasmania gives
Betfair the Australian operating base it so badly desires. But the time
has well past when the mainland threats should have taken on a
definable public platform, so all Tasmanian MPs know exactly what Lennon risks
in his enthusiasm to deal Kerry Packer a winning hand.

It also lets local media and the Government’s
constituents judge for themselves just what Lennon
risks against the benefits that he believes are coming to his
state coffers.