Friday, 30 March 2012
High Court Dismisses Appeals Of Betfair & Sportsbet In Respect Of Race Fields

The High Court delivered judgments at 10am today in the appeals by Betfair and Sportsbet.

All seven Justices of the High Court dismissed the appeals of Betfair and Sportsbet and ordered that Betfair and Sportsbet pay Racing NSW’s costs. As was the case in the Full Court of the Federal Court, it was an overwhelming success for Racing NSW and the NSW Thoroughbred and Harness Racing Industries and finally determines the claims by Betfair and Sportbset.

The final determination of these matters is a complete vindication of the strong position taken by Racing NSW to ensure that those wagering operators who substantially profit from our great industry contribute to the cost of putting on the show. Racing NSW and Harness Racing NSW have stood firm in their efforts to ensure that those wagering operators make a proper contribution to their industries.

Racing NSW Chief Executive, Peter V’landys, made the following statement:

“The result today is not just a victory for Racing NSW, but a victory for the 50,000 participants in thoroughbred racing in New South Wales whose hard work puts on the fantastic show which is thoroughbred racing. Racing NSW can now utilise the fees collected for the benefit of all of those participants.

Further, it is a nonsense to say that this will impact adversely upon the punters. The majority of bets placed with corporate bookmakers are on best tote-odds which results in a significant margin for the corporate bookmakers. The punters will continue to receive the same dividends. The judgments delivered today will not affect that position. The corporate bookmakers have been paying these fees for 3½ years and have still been making massive profits during that time. The punters, like all other racing participants, will benefit from improved infrastructure and racing.”


Following is the speech of Racing NSW Chairman, John Messara AM, made at this morning’s press conference

Ladies and gentlemen; this is an important day for the Racing Industry in NSW.

The High Court decision establishes that our sport is entitled to set and be paid a fee by those who use its product – a decision that will reverberate well beyond New South Wales.

After four years of uncertainty, the High Court’s dismissal of the appeals by Sportsbet and Betfair unlocks immediate and future funding that will flow directly to the people who work and invest in NSW racing – those that put on the show.

But today is only the beginning for New South Wales, as we set our sights on becoming a leading jurisdiction in world racing. There is much to be done to improve the viability of our participants and to assist race clubs with track and infrastructure improvements, especially in country areas.

Also, we recognise the need to improve our race programmes and the way in which we present racing and we are working on this.

Next week we’ll announce the first stage of prizemoney increases and other details of race fields funding … and later there will be other initiatives to announce.

Right now, however, I wish to thank previous Racing NSW boards and our Chief Executive Peter V’landys and his executives for their farsighted and tenacious prosecution of the industry’s case. In racing terms, they stayed the course from start to finish.

I acknowledge the two members of the previous and current Racing NSW boards here with us today, Alan Brown and Ken Brown. On behalf of the entire industry, I thank you both for your contributions towards the achievement of this result.

Peter V’landys has been the public face of the battle, a very tough role indeed, and he has displayed immense courage under great pressure during the long campaign to win this case. Peter, from all members of the industry, thank you for a difficult job so well done.

It’s time for all of us to take off our battle fatigues, put on the overalls and start building a new future for our great industry in New South Wales.

From today I trust that all racing participants including the corporate bookmakers can work harmoniously in the interests of racing.

I also wish to thank consecutive State Governments in NSW for their support over the last six years.

Our current Racing Minister the Honourable George Souris is a staunch ally and advocate for the industry, and I am sure he will be very happy with the news. I know he would love to be standing alongside us today but unfortunately, he had to attend a Ministerial Conference interstate convened by Simon Crean.

Finally, I would like to thank our legal team for guiding Racing NSW through the long battle.

I’m now pleased to hand over to our Chief Executive Peter V’landys to say a few words after which we‘ll be ready to field any questions you might have.

- JOHN MESSARA AM, Chairman Racing NSW, Friday, 30 March 2012