Australian Racing Board Chief Executive Andrew Harding said that while he is still opposed to Betfair operating in the country, ARB will not exclude Tasmania from interstate betting pools if Betfair is granted a license.
Earlier this year, some racing groups threatened Tasmania with expulsion from interstate betting pools if a license was granted to the betting exchange.
The change of tune came during meetings between Australian racing officials and Tasmanian regulators.
“When betting exchanges first emerged, we approached the subject with an open mind and conducted our own extensive inquiries into what was involved and the consequences for the racing industry,” said Harding.
“Our position on the issue is now well known.”
“The question is, will there be changes to the way the industry operates in Australia if a betting exchange is licensed.”
“The answer to that must be \’yes, there will be changes, there will be ripple effects but there won\’t be ripple effects in the sense of retaliation or retribution\’.”
The ARB is supported by Racing Victoria and together are lobbying for Premier Paul Lennon not to license Betfair in Tasmania.
In separate news, the Australian Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Council and the Queensland Racehorse Owners Association issued statements against Betfair being granted a license by the Tasmanian Government.
“A decision by the Tasmanian Government to grant British betting exchange Betfair a license without addressing the integrity concerns over the operation would put the health of Australian racing at risk,” said Wayne Milner, Chairman of the Australian Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Council.
“Every other state has voiced its strong opposition to Betfair and its operation. There are serious concerns about Betfairs operation that are being ignored,” he said
“Frankly I would call on all racehorse owners to make their views known to the Tasmanian Government. We are the people who inject millions of dollars into the industry each year. Owners invest in the industry because they love the sport and I would urge all owners to make their opposition known to the Tasmanian Government.”
“This is a great sport and its being put at risk by politicians looking for short term gain and risking long term pain.”
“Despite many efforts, racing does not face the same intense public scrutiny as publicly listed companies and there seems to be an assumption that unethical, unfair and dangerous practices only occur on race days. What Betfair does is to open a can of worms where the well being of the horse can be put at risk by unscrupulous trainers who can choose to over feed or over train or race a horse with an injury because now there is a the chance of making money from the horse losing,” he continued.
“The Tasmanian Government may be getting some short term financial gain but they are buying themselves a wide range of problems that can only hurt the health of Tasmanian Racing and Australian Racing.”
“Those problems can lead to punters walking away from the industry because they simply no longer have faith in its integrity. This is a time when politics should give way to good public policy.”
Rod Thirkell-Johnston, Chairman of the Tasmanian Turf Club, said he is confident he can persuade the Premier not to grant a license to the online betting exchange.
“I\’d say it\’s odds on we can persuade the Premier to to come to the right decision and that\’s not to license Betfair,” he said.