Working group established to explore methods in tackling illegal operators
The Australian Federal and Victorian Governments will form a working group specifically focused on stamping out illegal offshore gambling operations estimated to be handling illegal bets worth $1.5 billion annually.
The Offshore Wagering Working Group, which was formally announced today (Thursday) by Federal Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews and Premier of Victoria and Minister for Racing Denis Napthine, will comprise representatives from the horse-racing industry as well as professional sports and wagering organisations, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) wrote in an exclusive report.
"It is understood Australian Racing Board chief executive Peter McGauran will be appointed to the group and a representative from the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, which represents the AFL and three other football codes, and sports such as netball, cricket and tennis," the report said.
Part of the working group's undertaking will be to provide recommendations designed to halt illegal betting. Measures are expected to include blocking of access to offshore bookmakers by local internet services providers.
Andrews said stamping out illegal offshore wagering was critical to dissuade legal operators from relocating offshore in a bid to avoid paying taxes and other appropriate fees. "There are already Australian-headquartered organisations that are operating in this way by basing their betting operations in unregulated international jurisdictions, including in the Pacific and Asia regions," he said.
"[And] there are significant numbers of illegitimate offshore operators already targeting Australian racing and sport and it is vital that an effective regulatory regime be introduced to address the serious integrity and revenue risks that they pose."
"It is unfair that legitimate Australian-based and registered bookmakers pay the product fee required of them by racing and sports bodies while offshore bookmakers effectively pirate Australian product," added Dr Napthine.
Legal operators William Hill Australia and Tabcorp have been lobbying the Australian Government for just this type of initiative.
"Unlicensed offshore operators are not regulated to Australian standards. There are significant risks to consumers in terms of inadequate protection, as well as to the integrity of sport and racing," Tabcorp chairman Paula Dwyer said at an annual general meeting Wednesday.
"Secondly, revenue that would otherwise be returned to the Australian racing industry and our governments for investment into communities and social infrastructure, is instead going to unlicensed offshore operators."
"The thing that is alarming for us, and the reason why we're keen to push for [regulatory change], is there has been a transformation of these overseas bookmakers," William Hill Australia chief executive Tom Waterhouse told Fairfax Media earlier this month. "You have websites that look like William Hill websites or our competitors' websites."
Consultation will occur in the coming weeks on the final make-up of the working group with a view to it starting work later this year.
A final report including recommendations will be provided to the Federal Government through its Gambling Industry Advisory Council in 2015.
The full text of the Government press release can be read at:
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