Joint move to ban illegal wagering firms Fri, 31 Oct 2014

Trevor Chappell

A national working group will be set up to stamp out illegal offshore betting on racing and sport in Australia.

Australian punters spend hundreds of millions of dollars with illegal offshore bookies, but those bookies pay no product fees and deny revenue streams to governments, the racing industry and sporting organisations.

Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews and Victorian Premier Denis Napthine on Wednesday announced moves to crack down on the illegitimate industry.

"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," Mr Andrews said in a statement.

"It is also important to discourage any Australian-based operators being tempted to relocate offshore in order to avoid the obligations to racing and sporting bodies that they face under existing Australian laws."

Dr Napthine said wagering revenue helped fund racing and sports facilities, and prizemoney.

Who exactly will be in the working group is yet to be determined, but it will include representatives from the racing industry, professional sports and wagering companies.

It's expected to start work later this year and provide recommendations to the federal government through its Gambling Industry Advisory Council in 2015.

The move comes a day after the chair of wagering group Tabcorp, Paula Dwyer, urged the government to create a more level playing field in relation to unlicensed foreign companies taking bets from Australian residents.

Ms Dwyer said that as much as 14 per cent of betting by Australian-based customers was conducted with operators not licensed in Australia.

She said the fact that these foreign operators were not regulated to Australian standards posed significant risks to consumer protection and to the integrity of sport and racing.