Betfair’s Australian Presence Welcomed
By staff
The news that online betting exchange Betfair is in negotiations with the Government of New South Wales for an operational gambling license may have upset the state's horseracing fraternity, but the Tasmanian Thoroughbred Racing Council has announced that the deal could bring real benefits.

The Government for the nation’s most populated state is reportedly in discussions with the online gambling company's Aussie operations, which is half-owned by James Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (PBL), that already has a licence to operate in Tasmania.

The Chair of the Council, Rod Thirkell-Johnston, stated that the debut of Betfair in Tasmania has increased prize money and introduced a new type of punter to horse racing. Johnston said he was concerned about the integrity of racing in the island state when Betfair was first granted approval but that those fears have come to nothing.

'I was very concerned about the integrity side of it and I have to say my first opinion about Betfair was probably wrong,' said Thirkell-Johnston. 'There's been no problems with Betfair at all and it's been very straight forward. They've been able to monitor the integrity satisfactorily.'

Betfair, a joint venture between the UK-based Betfair and the Packer family's PBL, began operations in Tasmania in February of 2006 for a $4.59 million licence fee.

Thirkell-Johnston said Betfair has given the Tasmanian racing industry a boost by raising stakes by an average of about $2,750 a race to a minimum of $11,000.

'It’s providing very valuable revenue,' said Thirkell-Johnston. 'Income from Betfair supplemented from the income from the tote has enabled stakes to be at their present level.'

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