Is it a done deal between Betfair and Tasmania?

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The day after Betfair attracted record betting on the Melbourne Cup, speculation in Tasmania heightened that the deal between the online betting exchange and the Tasmanian Government has been done and an announcement is expected later this week.

Still yesterday Tasmanian Thoroughbred Racing Council Chairman Geoff Harper complained that Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon had been extremely secretive about the Betfair financials.

“If there is a genuine financial case to support the licensing of a betting exchange, why hasn\’t it been released?”

Racing Victoria\’s Chief Steward Des Gleeson, who oversees Australia\’s biggest horseracing events including the Melbourne Cup, said he and many others in the racing industry are against the concept.

“Race clubs and the racing industry generally provides excellent prize money to encourage horses, to encourage connections of horses to win races. By providing an exchange which encourages people to back losers I think is the wrong way to go because it\’s far easier to get a horse to lose a race than it is to win a race.”

Betfair spokesman Andrew Twaites said the racing industry will not suffer.

“All we want to do is compete in this marketplace. We offer a good deal for punters, we will operate in a niche part of the market, we\’re not going to take over the industry and we promise a good return for the racing industry.”