October 20, 2009

Betfair considering Tasmania move

British online betting exchange operator Betfair is considering abandoning its Australian base in Tasmania in favour of a mainland location after being excluded from recent state tax concessions.

Betfair was granted permission to operate from the island state jurisdiction four years ago and its current license is due to expire at end of next year. However, it was recently excluded from legislation that eliminated tax for online bookmakers operating in the jurisdiction in exchange for an annual fee of approximately $231,000.

“One of the things that the board has asked the management team to do is to explore other options,” said Andrew Twaits, Chief Executive Officer for Betfair Australia.

“As you would expect, the environment in Australia is very different now than it was four years or so ago when we were trying to get a licence here in Australia, so we'll just see how it goes. Everything is open for consideration at this stage; some jurisdictions have advantages over others.”

Twaits stated that the tax concession now being offered by Tasmania would stir considerable interest from online bookmakers from around the world.

“Most of the online gambling operators are based around Europe,” Twaits told Australian broadcaster ABC.

“Tax rates around the world are only going one way and that's down. Look at jurisdictions like Malta and Gibraltar. Tasmania becomes all of a sudden competitive with all of those jurisdictions. And one of the advantages that Tasmania has over any other jurisdiction in Australia is that, once you are licensed in Tasmania, you are able to advertise into the UK.”

Betfair currently employs 115 people at its Hobart headquarters and Michael Aird, Treasurer for Tasmania, revealed that the Government would be doing all it could to keep the UK-owned firm on the island while also attracting other corporate bookmakers.

“We have to ensure that we provide opportunities for people to be employed,” said Aird.

“These corporate bookmakers, if they decide to relocate to Tasmania or be established in Tasmania, would be bringing with them very large teams of people and in terms of employment opportunities could start another industry in Tasmania.”

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