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Has IGAB killed the on-course bookie?

Wed, Mar 29, 1:52pm by Staff Writer

A last-minute amendment to the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill could sound the death knell for the dying art of on-course bookmakers on Australian racecourses.

Bookies have long been an integral part of racing in Australia, but their numbers have plummeted due the rise of online betting options over the past decade.

The final blow to the art looks to have been struck by none other than anti-gambling MP Nick Xenophon, who got an amendment added to IGAB shortly before it passed the Senate last week which bans bookmakers from offering lines of credit to their customers.

The change effectively makes ‘on the nod’ betting, a key aspect of the profitability of on-course bookmaking, illegal.

The Victorian Bookmakers Association believes that the on course bookie industry, which generates around $500 million in turnover a year, will become a thing of the past.

VBA’s John Clancy told the Herald-Sun that the majority of his 150 members would go out of businesses as a result of the change.

“This would kill oncourse bookmakers and could you imagine the Spring Racing Carnival without being able to have a punt on the rails?” Clancy said. “These laws do nothing to address the problems but have just caused more confusion.

“They will favour the big corporates and kill small businesses across the state.”

Clancy said up to 80 per cent of business by on-course bookmakers was done either over the phone or online, most of which operated on deferred settlement arrangements.

That effectively means giving the customer credit and getting them to pay later, usually at the end of the day.

Senator Xenophon said his amendment, which was supported by the Labor Party, was supposed to target corporate bookies offering credit, but if it had the unintended consequence of shackling on-course bookies, he would revisit the amendment.

The unintended consequence of the IGAB change indicates the complex nature of gambling legislation. The key aspects of IGAB were to end in-play online betting on sport and to also tighten regulation of online poker and online casinos.

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