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Scott Ferguson from Betfair disagrees.

I spoke to Scott Ferguson from Betfair about Tim Ryan's comments and here is a rough transcript of his argument.

The unresolved issue in the UK is that unlicensed persons are using the betting exchange platform to negotiate bets but do not pay tax or levy in respect to their GWM (profits).

The UK govt (Dept of Culture, Sport & Media) that we deal with have recently released a statement that punters laying bets are not acting as unlicensed bookmakers because of several reasons.

Firstly, in many cases laying a selection is akin to backing the opponent.

Secondly, a key reason to licence bookies is so that they can pay. With us, there is no risk to either side of the transaction.

Thirdly, the layer is not in control of the arbitrary rules. That's our job.

In Tim's defence, that statement was only made a few weeks ago, probably after his response to you. However it only makes official what the same department had been saying for over a year. Instead of a tax, they pay a commission to us, which in turn becomes part of what we pay to the government. Simple equation really, he is simply jealous that the people he represents (bookmakers), are not governed/taxed in the same manner.

As for his comparison of taxation, punters betting (competitive) fixed odds on win bets will turn over considerably more than with a TAB - this is a big part of the bookies' argument of why they are good for the game, so surely extending that to our razor-sharp margins is good for all concerned. Not just for the tax paid, but industry awareness across the board - press coverage, sponsorship, more people becoming full-time punters etc.

Small-time bookies that can only lay 3 or 4 horses in a race - effectively making them punters, can utilise a new method of hedging. Evolve, embrace new technology, and let everyone win if they are up to it. Every industry has to evolve over time, dinosaurs fall by the wayside.

Then there's the matter of how effective Australian laws are in prosecuting companies doing their business on the other side of the world. It would be less stressful and less expensive for us to simply stay in the UK and rape the Australian racing industry. We want to contribute to the industry and economy as a whole, hence we are prepared to conform to Australian law whilst in the process of obtaining a licence.

The turnover and 'comparing apples with apples' arguments are well covered in the submissions to the Federal Government's Interactive Gambling Act.


Read Centrebet's especially.

Note in the NSW Dept of Gaming & Racing's submission the quote which goes something like 'our wagering outlets must offer every possible outcome'.

Ask the punters who bet with TAB Ltd on the NRL Wooden Spoon market in 2002. For at least a month they didn't have the eventual winner in the market.


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