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Australasian racing ministers to discuss betting

Media Statement
29 October 2003
Australasian racing ministers to discuss betting

Racing Minister Damien O'Connor travels to Sydney tomorrow for the 2003 Australasian Racing Ministers' Conference, to be held over 30/31 October.

Ministers from New Zealand and the eight Australian States and Territories meet at least once a year to examine issues facing the racing industry in this part of the world. The main issue for this year's conference will be the advent of betting exchanges.

Betting exchanges are a new mode of gambling and are predominantly Internet-based. They match punters who wish to bet on opposing outcomes of a future event (e.g. a horse race or a football match). Unlike traditional bookmakers, betting exchanges allow customers to bet that a particular outcome will or will not occur.

At the 2002 Conference, ministers established a task force to examine the effects of betting exchanges, and measures available to governments and the racing industry in response. The task force has recently published its report and will be reporting to ministers.

Mr O'Connor said betting exchanges raised new challenges for the racing industry and governments worldwide.

"I am aware that many people are concerned at the potential negative impacts from this new form of gambling.

"One concern is that betting exchanges provide a mechanism by which people can profit ? anonymously ? from horses losing. Potentially unscrupulous people could benefit from the defeat of horses whose chances they are in a position to influence.

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"Horse racing's integrity ? both actual and perceived - is vital for its success. Members of public will be reluctant to wager their hard-earned dollars on any event of dubious integrity."

The other major concern for the industry relates to its revenue streams from traditional forms of betting.

Mr O'Connor said racing bodies were anxious that increased use of betting exchanges by punters could potentially lead to a significant loss of race betting turnover with the New Zealand TAB. In turn, this would reduce the money generated for the racing industry.

However, he said there was no clear evidence yet that betting exchanges pose a serious and imminent threat to the NZ racing industry.

"Given the nature of betting exchanges and Internet gambling generally, it is very difficult to quantify the impact that these modes of gambling are having on the New Zealand TAB's turnover.

"In New Zealand we have a strong culture of totalisator betting and are perhaps less inclined to bet fixed-odds on racing with overseas bookies and exchanges. It is possible, however, that this situation may change in the course of time as we become more accustomed to fixed-odds betting.

"I am keeping an open mind on this matter but would be happy to consider future industry submissions on the impact of betting exchanges that are supported by strong empirical evidence."

Mr O'Connor said he was looking forward to meeting with Australian counterparts to discuss this issue and find a way forward.

He will meet with the New Zealand Racing Board early next month to discuss the outcome of the Conference.

Whilst in Sydney Mr O'Connor will also undertake other official engagements in his Immigration and Health / Rural Affairs portfolio delegations.

ENDS

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