Victorian bookmakers will be able to conduct internet and telephone betting 24/7 from approved racecourses under significant changes to the regulatory framework, Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing Rob Hulls said today.
Mr Hulls said Cabinet had approved the preparation of amending legislation which would enhance the competitiveness of Victorian bookmakers in an increasingly competitive national market.
“The bookmaking profession faces a number of challenges in its efforts to ensure its viability, and we need to ensure they have the necessary tools to compete in the current bookmaking environment,” Mr Hulls said.
“These legislative changes are an essential ingredient in support of the Brumby Government’s commitment to ensure that Victorian bookmakers continue to retain a strong place in the Victorian racing industry.”
The proposed reforms will:
• Allow Victorian bookmakers to conduct internet and telephone betting at any time from approved racecourse locations;
• Transfer responsibility for the registration of bookmakers to the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation; and
• Permit corporations to be registered as bookmakers.
The changes to the regulatory structure reflect a number of recommendations made by the Bookmaking Reforms Working Party, which comprised key stakeholders in the racing and wagering industries.
Mr Hulls said the Brumby Government was committed to ensuring that bookmakers retained a solid presence on Victorian racetracks and continued to form part of the colour and excitement of the race day experience.
“While Victorian bookmakers have been granted permission to conduct internet and telephone betting at any time, it should be noted that bookmakers must continue to conduct these activities from approved racecourse locations,” Mr Hulls said.
“This restriction is important to ensure that the historical separation of on-course wagering and off-course totalisator wagering is maintained.
“The restriction of bookmaker operations to approved racecourse locations will also assist regulatory authorities to ensure integrity standards are maintained. It is consistent with the approach adopted in other jurisdictions.”
Mr Hulls said he accepted that allowing corporations to register as bookmakers was necessary for Victorian bookmakers to be competitive.
“This change represents a significant shift from the previous position that bookmakers must conduct their business as individual sole traders,” he said.
“However, it has become clear that this change is essential to allow Victorian operators to compete effectively with large scale wagering operations that have evolved in other jurisdictions.”
As part of this, responsibility for bookmaking related registrations will be transferred from the Bookmakers and Bookmakers’ Clerks Registration Committee (BBCRC) to the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation (VCGR).
The appointment of the VCGR as the responsible regulatory authority is consistent with its current regulation of other gambling activities, including its regulation of the wagering licence holder.
Mr Hulls also gave in-principle support for a Tabcorp proposal which would allow it to conduct fixed odds betting on all races, subject to the approval of the racing controlling bodies. This change will be progressed concurrently with the bookmaking reforms.