In the good old days, the Mob always controlled the numbers racket. In Victoria yesterday, the Brumby Labor Government split the numbers racket between Tattersall’s Ltd and the Athens-based global betting-technology company, Intralot SA.

It is all Greek to us simple punters but the Intralot mob paid about $12 million as an upfront fee for a 10-year licence to print money but they say is “to establish and expand a modern distribution network, based on a state-of-the-art online system that will exceed 1,000 points of sale.”

This hard-earned is just for the Scratchies, which is the instant lotteries printed cards that, some say, could be coming to your children’s hand-helds by July next year. The numbers racket (called lotteries or gaming by modern folk) is worth some $1.2 billion a year and Intralot has just bought 15% of it.

Tattersall’s Ltd, the former secret honoured society that three years ago became a listed public company, paid about $19 million for the other 85% of the numbers racket which is known to mug punters by such names as Tattslotto and Powerball. Tatts had the monopoly for 54 years but is not too fussed about losing the Scratchies to the Greeks because the margins are so low.

But the Greeks are very excited about getting their foot in the door of the Australian numbers racket. The CEO of Intralot, Constantinos Antonopoulos, said: “the company’s establishment in Victoria will have mutual benefits both for the local community and Intralot. The international experience of Intralot guarantees that the government’s expectations will be met in the most credible and responsible way”.

Just how “responsible” remains to be seen. Premier Brumby, whose mob stands to pocket $3.75 billion in lottery licensing fees in the next 10 years, says “the market” will decide if people play the numbers racket and the government wasn’t forcing the punters to do their dough.

He says he will spend all the ill-gotten gains on propping up Victoria’s public hospital system before the Howard government starts throwing money at it. He says splitting the numbers racket between Tattersall’s and Intralot was the only fair thing to do. He can give no guarantees that either company will not use hand-helds “to market” their products.

To the Kookas, the big winners of the Victorian lottery were the two “advisers” to Tattersall’s and Intralot who just happen to be former Victorian Labor ministers – David White from spinners Hawker Britton and Tony Sheehan from Euro Pacific Strategies.

David White, a former Gaming Minister in the rotten Cain-Kirner government was once acting for Tattersall’s. Tony “Big Red” Sheehan, was the last Treasurer of the same rotten Cain-Kirner government (and will forever be known as the face of the “Guilty Party” ads that swept Jeff Kennett to power in 1992), was acting for Intralot.

In the good old days when the Mob ran the town, these advocates and advisers were known as consigliere. Whatever you call them, their numbers have certainly come up.

Peter Fray

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