President of TVG and Betfair's global director of horseracing Stephen Burn, recently the subject of a Paulick Report Forum brought to you by Breeders' Cup, joined the ongoing discussion on the Paulick Report regarding the push for exchange wagering in the U.S.
Mr. Burn left a lengthy defense of the legislative process in the comments section of our recent story 'California Anti-Gaming Group Getting Involved In Exchange Wagering Debate'. “It isn't correct to say we tried to 'sneak' exchange wagering through in Califronia.”
Below is the full commentary:
It isn't correct to say we (Betfair) tried to 'sneak' exchange wagering through in California at the last minute, although I accept that is what those who opposed the bill allege. We have been discussing exchange wagering in the US for many years and those talks progressed, in a meaningful way at a meeting orchestrated by the California Horseracing Board in February of this year.
At that meeting, Ron Charles, at the time Magna's main representative in California, proposed that exchange wagering should be put forward as a potential piece of legislation for consideration in 2010, not Betfair. Following that meeting, at which representatives of all of the states relevant racing organisations were present, Betfair worked through the succeeding months to help develop the legislation. At every stage, each new draft was circulated to tracks, horsemen, regulators and so on.
How the bill came together in Sacramento was down to the politicians. And, we wait to see whether or not it will receive sign off from the governor. If it does, then that's the time to sit down with the racing industry and potential customers and try and work out an optimal model. If Betfair is given the opportunity to do that we'd be delighted to participate If we're not, then good luck to those who are. Fundamentally, the product is good for the consumer and, without question, in my opinion, it is also good for racing and if an organisation is able to put together a better proposition for the customer and the sport then Betfair can they ought to succeed.
I do not agree either that we did anything 'shady' in Australia. Tasmania is as much a part of Australia as Florida is of the United States. And the claim that Betfair has devastated the racing industry in jurisdictions where we have operated is also not true depsite the fact that our commercial opponents regularly make that assertion. In the UK, for example, more money is going into horse racing now – significantly more – than a decade ago when Betfair first started. The combination of statutory levy payments and media rights fees provides record sums for racing. Betfair pays exactly the same % of its revenues as all other betting operators just as it is required to do under the law. The claims we should pay come from the BHA who resent the fact some of the funding now isn't controlled by them and goes directly to tracks and other recipients.
I have no issue with people not liking Betfair and certainly have no problem with competitors fighting their corner and doing what they think is right for their business. It is just disappointing that sometimes when they do that they use fantasy rather than fact to back up their claims.
If an exchange, whether Betfair operated or not, is introduced then doesn't work for racing or its consumers, then turn it off. From where I am sitting I struggle to see what the sport or its punters have to lose. And, I don't see too many other bright ideas being kicked around to help address some of the issues racing faces.
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