Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Legal sports gambling still expanding in Australia

Sports betting in Australia is still ghrowing rapidly according to publicly-listed Tabcorp, which recorded a 60% jump in revenue from its sports betting activities. In the 2006-2007 financial year, there was also massive growth in betting on the internet. In Tabcorp’s case it topped A$1 billion for the first time - up 23% on the previous year. Betting on sporting events totalled A$185 million, led by the Australian Open tennis men’s final, followed by the Rugby League State of Origin series. The most popular sports for betting are Rugby League, AFL, and soccer with online betting growing more rapidly than betting through agencies and telephone betting.

But sports betting with Tabcorp, and the other TAB agencies, still trails well behind the outlays through betting agencies and bookmakers. The Northern Territory based Sportingbet turned over close to A$700 million in the first quarter this year alone, and there are at least half a dozen other major operators, including BetFair. Last week’s third State of Origin match saw overA$3 million put through the NSW TAB sports betting agencies alone: there were around 20 betting options available for players. Victorians were slower to embrace sports betting, but with more AFL games live on television, and the Socceroos participation in contests such as the Asian Cup, growth in online sports betting on the Victorian TAB rose by 63% last year.

"It is probably a coincidence, but Victoria is leading Australia when it comes to the regulation of sports betting. Legislation was introduced in the Victorian Parliament in March to ensure sports on which we can bet have in place rigid processes to deny fraud, and to deliver to those sports a share of the revenue from betting on their sporting events," wrote commentator Jeff Wall at crikey.com.

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