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Productivity Commission Proposes National Wagering Rules

Thursday, 22nd October 2009

The Productivity Commission yesterday released the draft report of its inquiry into Australia's gambling industries, including a proposed national overhaul of wagering regulations. Key findings included:

  • Without mechanisms to prevent "free-riding", people could take bets on the outcome of races without making any payment to the racing industry. This poses a risk to the long-term viability of the racing industry & would have detrimental consequences for the communities where racing plays a key role. Importantly, such a decline would also adversely affect consumers of wagering & racing products.
  • The granting of monopolies and, more recently, race fields legislation that mandates payments, have addressed the free-riding problem. However: these arrangements are anti-competitive & reduce the scope for entry by innovative suppliers offering lower prices to consumers; & regulatory inconsistencies across jurisdictions have led to undue costs in a market that is now essentially national.
  • A national funding model would remedy these problems. It would best involve: a single levy to the racing industry paid by wagering operators on a gross revenue basis; & the creation of an independent national body, that would set & periodically review the levy, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders. A key objective of this body would be to maximise the interests of consumers.
  • There are also grounds for a harmonised tax regime, based on a binding agreement among all jurisdictions.
  • There is a good case for retaining totalisator exclusivity arrangements & for permitting tote-odds betting.
  • The arguments for retaining TAB retail exclusivity are not compelling.
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