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BETFAIR set for move to Northern Territory

Mon, Sep 12, 2:39pm by Staff Writer

BETFAIR’s Australian head office is on the move, turning its back on Tasmania in favour of the Northern Territory from September 20. The move will create about dozen jobs and a new, albeit meagre, source of government revenue. The move became a fait accompli in April when the Northern Territory Parliament amended legislation to allow for betting exchanges.

The deal for the UK based betting exchange to come to Darwin was confirmed last week. The exchanges have punters set their own odds and bet against each other instead of against bookmakers. Profits are made on commissions. It is believed Betfair will begin its Top End operation with about 12 staff.

Leading the charge to bring Betfair to the top end was Former Racing Minister Peter Styles, told parliament at the time that figure was expected to increase if the business met growth targets. The Territory has Australia’s cheapest bookmaking licences. The 13 corporate bookmakers licensed in the NT paid a collective $4.77 million in gaming taxes last financial year on a turnover of $9.6 billion.

Betfair will pay roughly $805,000 in annual tax and licence fees with the move expected to cost Tasmania up to $3 million a year in state revenue. Mr Styles said in April the Territory’s tax and fee structure was an “attractive lure” for operators, while the regulatory structure allowed for a “quicker response to operational issues than the Tasmanian regulator”.

He said the coming of Betfair would not contribute to problem gambling “as Betfair has been in business in Australia for 10 years”. “This does not mean the Northern Territory is a pushover when it comes to approval process, but our smaller size allows us to move with greater speed,” he said.

Betfair was handed an Australian licence in November 2005, when then-Tasmanian premier Paul Lennon defied intense pressure from interstate racing heavyweights and broke the monopoly of the TABs on national wagering. Betfair’s move north has caused a stir in Tasmania.

Not only will it lose state revenue, but questions remain over its 50 staff at the hi-tech operations centre at the Technopark in the North Hobart suburb in Glenorchy. A spokesman for the exchange said it would still maintain a presence in the state. Betfair has been owned by CrownBet, which is licensed in the Territory, since 2014.

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