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Internet Gambling Operator Hits Hurdle

25 Aug 2004

AUSTRALIA -- As reported by the Australian: "When two Australian Federal Police officers knocked on Mark Davies's door in April, the former stockbroker wondered what he had done wrong.

"The Australian head of the UK internet gambling outfit Betfair, who lives in Mosman, on Sydney's north shore, was relieved when the two officers, after a brief set of questions, decided he had no case to answer - their tip-off that Davies was running an illegal online gambling operation from home was wide of the mark.

"...Betfair was established in the UK in 2000 and in early 2003 the company decided it would attempt to gain an internet betting license in Australia.

"But the racing industry, led by the TABs and ably supported by the nation's bookmakers, had different ideas. Their opposition to the UK outfit led to an aggressive campaign waged against Betfair, resting on the premise that the company has the potential to ruin the local racing industry.

"...Despite the opposition, Betfair, with the help of lobbying firm Government Relations Australia, won its first major battle in July when the federal Government announced it would leave open a loophole in the Interactive Gambling Act that has allowed it to operate on Australian events.

"... The company ... signed a deal worth more than $20million for a 50-50 joint venture with Kerry Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting Limited.

"The deal is not yet in place because it relies on Betfair winning its next challenge - gaining a licence from one of the states or territories so it can continue operating on Australian events..."

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