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Australia Gears Up for Wagering

3 November 1997

RGT came across some information in The Age with updates on what's happening in Australia.

According to that publication Down Under, Western Australia's TAB (sportspool and parimutuel horse wagering outlet) is ready to rock and roll on the internet. They said, "Western Australia is the first state to introduce Internet gambling on horse races, and by next year the Melbourne Cup will be seen live on computer screens around the world."

Victoria's Tabcorp general manager of corporate affairs, Ms Jill Hollingworth, said she was not particularly worried about the new competition. However, Tabcorp had Internet gambling "under active consideration", despite the hindrance of laws in Victoria preventing it setting up a credit card gambling service.

Western Australian TAB's senior marketing officer, Mr Todd Triebler, said Victorian punters have had access to the WA website since July, and have been using it in increasing numbers to bet on the spring racing carnival. While the TAB had not actively sought interstate customers, up to 2 per cent of its total turnover is already coming from Victoria. Using betting accounts or credit cards, gamblers can make bulk bets at up to 14 per second into the SuperTAB pool (of which Tabcorp is also a member).

For the big day on Tuesday (Melbourne Cup), Mr Triebler expected his TAB's total turnover to increase this year from $6 million last year to $9.4 million - partly as a result of the Internet. Ms Hollingworth said Tabcorp was not overly concerned by the competition, even though it had the potential to take Victorian money interstate.

"I suspect that the Melbourne Cup is such a social event that people will be enjoying it in public, and not sitting at home in front of a computer," she said.

It was inequitable, however, that Tabcorp was prevented from setting up a credit card gambling system while Victorian punters could bet in WA and the Northern Territory.

"As a principle we believe there should be equity between the markets. If (Victorians) want it and it's available in other states we would believe it's fair that they have it in this state."

A spokesman for the Gaming Minister, Mr Roger Hallam, said future legislation to deal with Internet gambling was under discussion, and credit card gambling and the transfer of tax revenue back to the state in which the punter lived would be part of the equation.

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