UK-based online betting exchange Betfair is looking into the possibility of purchasing the Tote Tasmania betting business after the State Government announced last week that the service would be sold within six weeks.
The Tote operates all of the island state’s betting on horse and greyhound races around Australia with the Government revealing that it would now seek Parliamentary approval to amend the Gaming Control Act of 1993 in order to bring the regulation of the service under the Tasmanian Gaming Commission.
“The divestment will help in improving Tote’s competitive position compared to the other privatised Tabs in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia,” said Michael Aird, Treasurer for Tasmania.
“Maintaining a wagering business in public ownership is not a core function of Government. The proceeds of the sale, which we hope will be finalised by the end of June 2009, will be reinvested into other state assets.
“The sale of Tote is consistent with most other Australian states and territories, which have also sold their wagering businesses with only Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory still with Government-owned totalisators.”
According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the London-based firm is said to be considering a bid with news service quoting financial analyst Tom Ellison as stating that the Tote could be worth upwards of $100 million.
'It's probably the worst time to try and sell a business considering the global financial situation,' said Ellison.
'Tote already has an agency agreement with Betfair and certainly Betfair would be able to expand some of their Australian operations through Tote.
ABC also reported that Australian gambling group Tabcorp could be another potential bidder for the totalisator business, which also gives the local racing industry $27 million a year in order to help fund meetings and prize money.