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• Packer's Betfair gets green light
January 16, 2006 - Australia's first internet betting exchange will be open for business next month after receiving its licence today.

The Tasmanian Gaming Commission has issued a licence with betting exchange endorsement to Betfair Pty Limited, a 50-50 joint venture between the UK-based gambling exchange and the Packer family's Publishing and Broadcasting Limited.

The approval has haunted Premier Paul Lennon, who was last week accused of accepting thousands of dollars in free hospitality from the Packer family's Crown Casino just days before signing the $700 million Betfair contract.

Mr Lennon dismissed calls for his resignation, denying he had misled parliament or acted improperly.

He told reporters it was impossible the upgrade could have influenced him because Cabinet had already made its decision on October 24.

But Mr Lennon told state parliament on October 25 that the decision was still to be reached.

Today's announcement follows amendments to the Tasmanian Gaming Control Act 1993 in November.

Betfair co-founder Edward Wray said the licence heralded the beginning of a new era for Australian punters.

"It is a great day for the punter, who will have more choice, better value and more control over the punting process than ever before," he said.

Betfair expects to start operating on February 7.

James Packer, executive chairman of PBL, said the licence was a significant step forward for the wagering industry.

"We believe that punters will appreciate having access to an exciting new 21st century product and that racing and sport throughout the country will also benefit," he said.

PBL chief executive officer John Alexander said the issue of the licence would provide significant benefits for Tasmania including creating new jobs and additional funding for the Tasmanian racing industry.

However, the joint venture has attracted controversy with Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon rejecting claims this month that he received thousands of dollars worth of free hospitality from the Packer family's Crown Casino before the deal was closed.

Racing authorities have also warned Tasmania could be ostracised from the national betting pool as a result of its decision.

The joint venture will be based in Hobart's Technopark precinct, located in the suburb of Glenorchy.

Tasmanian Gaming Commission chairman Clyde Eastaugh said the commission conducted all necessary investigations to satisfy itself that Betfair was suitable to hold a gaming licence. [...]
> Read the full story here
Source: Smh.com.au

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