|Leading betting exchange group Betfair has won its High Court challenge against a Western Australian law that prohibited residents placing bets using its online exchange.|
Politicians along with local betting firms in the state had tried to curtail Betfair’s operations but, according to the Australian Daily Telegraph, the Court in Perth ruled that the legislation was illegal because it imposed protectionist burdens on interstate trade contravening Section 92 of the Constitution. In a unanimous judgment, the Court ruled that the laws were invalid and residents of Western Australia could now place bets with Betfair's Tasmania-licensed exchange in Hobart by telephone or over the Internet.
The Western Australia legislation was introduced last year and was widely considered at the time as an attempt to stop Betfair's Australian expansion and protect the domestic betting industry. Betfair was granted a Tasmanian betting exchange licence in January of 2006 and challenged the law, which imposed punitive restrictions on residents betting through an exchange with fines of over $9,000 and two years in prison.
Betfair also challenged a law that made providing information on Western Australian race fields without approval an offence. The Court ruled that the firm could publish or make available these fields by telephone or over the Internet between Tasmania and other states.
Betfair operates around the world and its system enables bettors to choose their own odds and bet against each other, often even after an event has started. The company processes five million transactions a day and more than 300 bets a second and is currently seeking a licence to set up operations in New South Wales. However, the local racing industry claims this could cripple the sport with lay bets harming the sport's integrity.