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Bruce Clarke hosted the 2008 Racing and Sports Betting forum and updated the conference with the latest news including Tabcorps threat to take the ACT, WA and Tasmanian tote pools out of STAB.  No explanation is known but it can be assumed that these TAB’s are competing for punters dollars and Tabcorp don’t like it.

Peter V’landys, the CEO of Racing New South Wales was uncompromising with his presentation about Race Fields Legislation and it was made clear that Racing NSW wasn’t in a mood to take any criticism over it’s stance. His opening comments were in relation to the Gentlemens’ Agreement when he said: “The problem with the Gentlemen’s Agreement is that first you have to find Gentlemen”.

(For those punters who are unaware, the agreement was that other Racing jurisdictions would not poach one another’s customers e.g. The New South Wales TAB wouldn’t pursue accounts from other States etc. but the whole concept was not public knowledge until Horse Racing Australia Magazine exposed it in publishing in 2007, a letter from the NSW Racing Minister to the Chief Minister of Norfolk Island).   

Mark Read of IASBet (now SportsBet) challenged V’landys figures that were quoted in support of the legislation and to say there were some strong views expressed between the two antagonists is an understatement.

Garry Robinson of Horse Racing Australia put the question to Peter V’landys of whether Racing NSW acknowledged that without the punter there would be no Racing industry to support. Robinson pointed out that the competition for the punting dollar was so intense that an increase caused by the Race Fields Legislation would be the cause of many punters not betting Racing at all but going to Sports Betting among others.
At the conclusion of Vlandys’ reply he said: “6%?..14.5%? The average punter wouldn’t know the difference”.

Rob Hines of Racing Victoria came to the podium and it was obvious from the start that his approach was different. He acknowledged that their legal advice suggested that the Race Fields Legislation was unenforceable and they, by agreement with the Corporates and other Bookmakers accepted 10% of gross profit from betting on Victorian venues and 15% during the Spring Carnival. This is a far more realistic proposition.

Many of the attendees wished to meet up with Peter V’landys during the day to clarify his remarks but unfortunately he left before the first break of the day.

Further on the RVL (Racing Victoria Ltd) Report. We will see a night time COX Plate in 2009. In fact there will be a move towards a lot more night racing. We will see a move towards the interval between races being reduced to thirty minutes and we may well see an amalgamation of many of Victoria’s Country Race Clubs in a bid to reduce expenses and make the whole industry more viable. RVL’s vision for Victoria is streets ahead of anywhere else.

Mike Kelly of Queensland advised that the Government has authorised Racing bodies to charge a fee for their Race Fields but other than that the Government will not interfere  but leave it up to them to negotiate with Bookmakers and TAB’s.

Malcolm Richardson from the Northern Territory said that some things in Racing have been going on since before the Dead Sea was sick and the allegations that the Corporate Bookmakers registered in the Northern Territory were not putting dollars back into the industry. “Even Stevie Wonder could see that the Corporate Bookmakers contribute to the Racing industry”.  He went on to say that his jurisdiction would continue to do whatever it takes to keep them there (in NT).

Jamie Nettleton of Addisons Lawyers expressed his view that the stakes were so high that ongoing Legislation would now be the norm in Australia as challenges continue on the NSW Legislation.

Peter Mair expressed the view that there are still a number of rorts with horses racing dead in NSW but he declined to name some instances.

Tim Ryan, CEO of the Australian Bookmakers Association was quite vocal during his forum appearance and is not a person to be taken lightly as Adrian O'Domhnaill of the Australian Punters Association found out. Adrian had questions for every speaker on the day but the only issue that was considered and is having some consideration is his contention that the deductions for late scratchings can be proven mathematically to be too high.

Ryan informed the group that during 2009, there will be price fluctuations available from many more courses as they provide PDAs to officials at these smaller venues and that the ABA would be making price fluctuations available to the public directly, probably via the Internet. Ryan accepts that the price information, although considered the copyright of the association, was a form of advertising.

Mark Read advised during an interview on the day that IASBet (now SportsBet)’s prices did not always reflect the on course market but were IASBet’s (now SportsBet)prices based on their own assessments.

All in all the Informa Racing and Sports Betting Forum was an informative and interesting event for the over 50 representatives from Government, Bookmakers and regulators as well as punters and the media.

Bruce Clark
Above: Bruce Clark (Chair) Racing Journalist & Broadcaster

Peter V'Landys
Above: CEO NSW Racing, Peter V'Landys

Mark Read
Above: Mark Read Managing Director, IASBet (now SportsBet), challenging Peter V'Landys

Rob Hines
Above: Rob Hines, CEO
Racing Victoria Ltd.

Malcolm Richardson
Above: Malcolm Richardson, NT Deputy Director of Licensing & Manager Racing
& Dept. Justice

Tim Ryan & Jamie Nettleton
Above: Tim Ryan, Australian Bookmakers Association (Left), Jamie Nettleton Addisons Lawyers

Sean Bartholomew
Above: Sean Bartholomew, Racing Odds

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