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Emily D. Swoboda

WA to Betting Exchanges: 'Not Here'

14 December 2006

Western Australian will not be following the lead of Victoria and Tasmania in its handling of betting exchanges. The state's policymakers have passed a ban against the lucrative, but controversial industry.

Western Australia Racing and Gaming Minister Mark McGowan on June 21, 2006 introduced to the state's parliament Bill No. 146, "Betting and Racing Legislation Amendment Bill 2006," which if passed into law would prohibit the operation of betting exchanges. The legislation was also prohibits the publication of Western Australian race fields without appropriate approval. It received a first and second reading in the Legislative Assembly (lower house) upon its introduction.

Bill No. 146 moved to the Legislative Council (upper house) in August and received final approval on Dec. 7. Because it passed through Legislative Council without any amendments, the new law could be in place before the end of the year.

McGowan said the move will strengthen the integrity of Western Australia's racing industry.

"Thanks to the State Labor Government's reforms," he said, "the WA racing industry is thriving."

He added, "The establishment of betting exchanges in other parts of Australia was seen as a considerable threat to the integrity of our industry, which is why we made this legislation a priority. Except for a few formalities, this legislation is now in place, and the racing industry can breathe a sigh of relief."

The new law carries with it hefty penalties for violation. Not only does it make it an offense to establish or operate a betting exchange in Western Australia, but it makes it forbids the casual better in Western Australia from placing a wager through a betting exchange. Any punter who uses a betting exchange could face a fine of up to A$10,000, up to 24 months in prison or both. Operators found in violation of the law would face the same penalties.

Australian Racing Board (ARB) Chairman Bob Pearson has praised McGowan and the WA government for passing the legislation. The ARB has been categorically opposed to the idea of allowing betting exchanges to operate in Australia, citing integrity concerns among other things.

"The passage of legislation was requested by the racing industry in Australia and I commend the Minister for Racing, the Hon. Mark McGowan and the Carpenter Government, for heeding the industry's concerns and acting in such a decisive fashion," Pearson said in a prepared statement.

The ARB campaigned against Betfair during its bid for a license in Tasmania, which it inevitably won late last year. Betfair has since been approved by Racing Victoria Limited to publish Victorian race fields and match wagers on Victorian racing.

Click here to view Betting and Racing Legislation Amendment Bill 2006.

Click here to view the Bill's Explanatory Memorandum.

Click here to view the letter being sent to Betfair's Western Australia-based customers.

WA to Betting Exchanges: 'Not Here' is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda