Australian Racing industry await government decision
By abigail
The decision regarding changes to the Interactive Gambling Act is due to be delivered by the Australian Federal Government today. Speculation leading up to this decision has landed on the side that the government is unlikely to make any changes to the act, and therefore the level of access online betting exchanges have to the Australian population. However much lobbying has been done by Australian based organisations to try and convince the government otherwise.

The primary area of concern is the effect online sports betting may have on the Australian racing industry. TAB- a leading Australian bookmaking company last year had an annual turnover of Aus$1.25 billion- $577 million of which was then returned in payments to the country’s racing industry. It is the absence of any such contributions, plus the fear of taking business away from Australian based companies, which are the foundation for the industry’s argument against allowing online exchanges to continue.

However the online options remain an attractive alternative for punters, allowing as they do a higher proportion of the money won to actually be pocketed by winners. The cutting out of a middleman in the betting process, or an actual bookmaker effectively cuts the commission rates on winnings earned from the usual 14-16percent to between two and five percent, depending on the amounts being won.

The racing industry, and state controlled racing boards have all been very vocal in their campaigning against the rights of foreign online betting exchanges being allowed to continue operating in Australia. The fear of no significant changes being made to the Interactive gambling Act is at a very high level, with comments such as “We see this issue as the most serious to hit the racing industry in the last 20 to 30 years…It has the potential to make the racing industry totally unviable”, being made by the chief exec of Racing NSW Peter V’Landys. Indications prior to today’s awaited decision have been that the Federal Government is unlikely to change the Act in question. The racing industry and its regulative bodies are keen to see if their intense lobbying will have made any difference to their decision.

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