Betfair on course for Australia - Tuesday 12th of April 2005

Betfair, the online betting exchange, could be on the brink of securing a licence to operate in Australia.

Australia is its third biggest market, though it currently has no licence or office in the country and is not allowed to do any marketing work.

Talks have been taking place over the past week between James Packer, son of Kerry Packer whose PBL is a joint venture partner with Betfair, and authorities in Tasmania over the possibility of granting the company a licence. Other Australian states have ruled out such a move amid fierce opposition from bookmakers.

Australia appeals to Betfair because of the strength and quality of its horse racing industry which features events such as the Melbourne Cup. The country's bookmakers have been waging an intense campaign against the company, arguing that Betfair's innovation of allowing punters to "lay" horses to lose as well as backing them to win will encourage corruption.

However, Betfair has always argued that it helps fight corruption by providing an audit trail for every bet struck over the exchange.

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