Skip to content

Tassie word-eating contest in search of sponsor

Following on from my article about Gide and monsters, copied below, I was amused to see reported in the Tasmanian Mercury newspaper that, “Betfair has ridden to the rescue of the Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival, filling the void left by naming sponsor AAMI’s recent departure.” Apparently Tasracing chief executive Eliot Forbes said he was ‘delighted’ with the new deal. I bet he was.

It’s eight years since Australian newspapers were running the headline “Racing for Ribbons” in warning at what devastation granting Betfair a licence would bring. That’s a while, I guess; but in some ways, it seems like another era.

Over the weekend, I had a look at just one month’s worth of the press cuttings I have from the 18 months that I spent in Australia getting Betfair licensed down there – that of April 2005, when the Tassie deal beckoned. Here is a small selection of the bilge that was spouted back then – the hand-wringing doom and gloom that led to me being told live on radio, “you can roll the Queen out in your defence if you want to. Go home: we don’t want you here in Oz.”

As you might expect, the politicians led the rhetoric. “Woe betide [the Paul Lennon Government] if they sign up to a deal that sees the Tasmanian racing industry brought to its knees, ” said Sue Napier, the opposition’s racing spokeswoman. She also issued a press release entitled, “Betfair license [sic] would sound the deathknell for the Tasmanian racing industry” , while her leader Rene Hidding warned that the State Premier was ‘sacrific[ing] the racing industry”.

The papers were weighing in, in size. A Mercury editorial entitled Destroy claimed that, “there is something smelly about Betfair. Tasmania’s good name – and its image – should not be associated with it. Discussing business opportunities is one thing. Doing a deal that could destroy the racing industry is another”, while The Advocate reported that, “the Tasmanian racing industry would face disaster if betting exchange Betfair were given an operating licence by the State Government.”

Tasmanian Racing Club chairman Geoff Harper was quoted as saying that there would be no racing at all if Betfair were introduced! Mr. Harper said that Betfair had been “the greatest disaster of betting” in the world, while Tote Tas CEO Terry Clarke said that, “we are against betting exchanges being allowed on the grounds they don’t give anything back to the racing industry.” Peter V’Landys, Racing NSW CEO, added that, “it would be suicide and would bankrupt the Tasmanian racing industry.”

I could go on. I have eight volumes of this stuff – taking up half a metre of bookshelf. Maybe some time I’ll dust them off, along with a few other Betfair stories, and put them into a book.

In the meantime, I wonder where these people are now, and what they have to say about the new sponsorship deal.

Posted in Australia, Betfair, Betting industry.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

You must be logged in to post a comment.