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Tabcorp ‘ready’ to bid for Australia’s last state-owned betting firm

| By iGB Editorial Team
Gambling giant linked with move for agency as state announces sale process will begin next year

Tabcorp is ready to make a bid for Western Australia’s TAB business after the state government announced plans to finally sell it off in a deal estimated to be worth A$500m (€310m/$353m/£270m).

State Treasurer Ben Wyatt outlined proposals for the last government-owned betting agency in Australia to be sold, with the process to begin next year at the earliest. A price tag has not been set, but some media outlets have reported a figure of around A$500m. The government said that 35% of proceeds would go to the local racing industry.

Tabcorp, Australia’s biggest gambling company, said in a submission to the state government, published on Tuesday, that it would be “ready to respond” to a sale process. Tabcorp and Tatts – which have since merged – both held talks about buying the TAB more than three years ago. The sale was first mooted four years ago, and the TAB was officially listed for sale in the state's 2015 budget, but political squabbling and divisions within the racing industry led to delays.

Under the sale, TAB outlets would for the first time be able to offer popular virtual animated horse and greyhound horse racing products. The sale of the TAB comes as Wyatt also announced the sale of the electricity grid in a bid to boost state coffers.

In other plans revealed on Tuesday, Western Australia is also to impose a 15% point of consumption tax on profits to replace the racing and wagering tax and the bookmakers' betting levy. The local racing industry will receive 30% of total revenue from the new tax, which will be imposed from January 1.

“This is the most significant reform package put forward for the racing industry in its history, and is in the best interests of the whole state and our WA racing industry,” Wyatt said on Tuesday.

“The reason why every state in the nation has gone down a point of consumption tax path is because it means that those [online and] foreign-owned corporate bookmakers will for the first time be paying tax in Western Australia.”

Racing and Wagering WA chief executive Richard Burt welcomed the reforms, suggesting the industry had been “fragile” since talk of privatising the TAB began in 2014.

Burt said: “They've aware that the primary funding comes from the TAB and so when you throw that into the mix, well we're going to sell it and we don't know what that looks like, naturally then people go, you know what, I don't know if I'll go into that industry.”

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