Gambling Duopoly Should Go, Says Commission


Status quo confers 'rare privelege' and should go

The Australian government's Productivity Commission recommendations are unlikely to be well received by the gambling groups Tatts and Tabcorp, which have exclusive retail wagering licences in some Australian states (provinces).

The Age newspaper reports that the recommendations of the Commission place renewed pressure on the gambling companies, because it urges state governments to scrap their exclusive retail wagering licences and open up betting markets to greater competition.

Most of the duopoly's licenses expire between 2012 and 2016, and the Commission recommends that state governments do not renew them exclusively as this is a ''rare privilege'', unfair to punters and no longer justifiable.

The Age notes that Tatts Group, through UniTAB, earns A$130 million before tax through its retail wagering licences in Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia, whilst Tabcorp holds the licence in Victoria until 2012 and in NSW until 2013, delivering pre-tax earnings last year of A$252 million.

If the companies look on the bright side, ending their dominance in some states could open up opportunities for them in others in a truly free market.

The newspaper reports that the Commission's recommendations come as the industry awaits the outcome of charges against a South Melbourne pub, the Rising Sun Hotel, and the owner of an internet kiosk installed there, VenueNet, which offered online access to Darwin-based bookmaker Sportsbet.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation is prosecuting VenueNet for possessing an unauthorised instrument of betting and helping the pub run a betting house with the unauthorised kiosk after a complaint from Tabcorp .

A spokeswoman for Victorian Gaming Minister Tony Robinson said yesterday that despite the Commission's recommendation, the [state] government would continue with its tender of the new retail wagering licence for beyond 2012.

''We're not going to back away from the parameters of the current wagering licence, which is exclusive,'' she said.

This is the second of the Commission's recommendations that appear to have been rejected out of hand; earlier this week the Australian federal government's Community Minister, Jenny Macklin, said that the federal government will not support any moves to liberalise online gambling laws in the country as recommended by the Commission.

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