Tabcorp betting wants government protection

The Age newspaper in Australia reports that the long-established Tabcorp betting organisation wants government protection to help it better compete with Northern Territory-based Internet rivals (mainly betting exchange Betfair, which has an Australian partnership with casino and media king James Packer.)

The prestigious Melbourne Cup held last week seems to have been the catalyst for the request. Tabcorp took A$36.5 million in bets on the main Melbourne Cup thoroughbred horse race, which was 10.3 percent up on last year's event. However, the owner and operator of the Tab for the state of Victoria revealed that this was only 5.5 percent more than was wagered on the 2006 Melbourne Cup, and that it took in a total of only A$64.8 million over the day's ten events, which was just 3.5 percent more than in 2007 and 3.2 percent higher than in 2006.

Tabcorp spokesmen said that the relaxation of advertising regulations in Victoria and New South Wales in October 2008 triggered an estimated A$20 million in gaming turnover shifting away from the Tab, which will, in turn, cut royalty payments to the racing industry.

Betfair introduced "in-run" betting for the first time during the Cup.

TabCorp is demanding an 'immediate' three percent cut in the state's wagering tax rate with similar annual breaks until 2012 alongside a ban on [other] bookmakers offering tote odds as well as their own for races, uniform gaming operator fees across Australia and a national ban on introductory 'free' bets and credit betting.

"Not only do bookmakers now simply copy tote prices, they can give a better price as they operate from jurisdictions where taxes and racing industry contributions are minimal," said Elmer Funke Kupper, Chief Executive Officer for TabCorp. "Basically, we're making it up as we go, state by state, in what is a national industry. This cannot work."

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