Betting exchange decision poses challenge to TABs
By staff
Sydney: The door is now open for a range of organisations to establish betting exchanges in Australia and serve a rising tide of demand. While some exchanges, such as Betfair, already offer such services to Australians from their operations based overseas, the Government's decision not to change the Interactive Gambling Act has opened the door to allow organisations such as Betfair, as well as TABs and bookmakers to establish similar operations located in Australia.

According to Jamie Nettleton, a partner with international law firm Coudert Brothers and expert in the field of online gaming, this will significantly broaden opportunities for organisations involved in online gaming, but also represents 'A real challenge to the very significant market position enjoyed by the country's TABs.'

Although the Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts was lobbied heavily to limit the operations of betting exchanges, the Government this week announced it had opted to retain the status quo which leaves betting exchanges free to continue to provide services to Australian residents under the wagering services exemption contained in the Interactive Gambling Act.

The rise of betting exchanges' popularity has been so swift that no specific mention was made regarding them in the issues paper released by the Department in February 2003.

Despite this rising popularity the Government said it found no compelling evidence to suggest betting exchanges would contribute to an increase in the level of problem gambling. In deciding not to make changes to the Act, the Government again noted the traditional role of States and Territories in relation to licensing gaming, and stressed that this would continue.

'We anticipate that a number of parties, including Betfair, other betting exchange operators as well as TABs and bookmakers will now seek to establish betting exchanges in various States and Territories,' said Nettleton who is chairman of the sports and gaming law committee of the International Bar Association and a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law organisation.

He also said it was interesting that the Government had not announced any recommendation that regulations be introduced to regulate financial transactions associated with the provision of interactive gambling services.

About Coudert: Recently named 'the most internationally enterprising of all US based law firms' by a leading industry journal, Coudert is comprised of 650 lawyers in 30 offices across 18 countries. The Firm is nominated for three separate law firm of the year honours; earned top ranking among large firms for a summer associates survey; and is recognised industry wide for its leadership involving cross border complexity.

With ten offices, and one associated office in Asia Pacific, Coudert Brothers is one of the most highly regarded international firms offering services throughout the region. The first overseas law firm to open an office in China, Coudert has developed a strong reputation as both pioneer and innovator, recently winning awards for a ground breaking securitisation project in Australia.

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