HARNESS Racing Victoria has been dealt a blow, with the Federal Court ruling in favour of betting agency Sportsbet regarding race field fees and turnover-based fees.
This statement, written by HRV chief executive John Anderson, was posted on harness.org.au yesterday ...
Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) defended an action brought against it by Sportsbet Pty Ltd (Sportsbet) in the Federal Court of Australia. The case ran over two weeks (in March and August 2011).
Sportsbet challenged the Victorian legislation under which HRV charges a race field fee. Sportsbet also challenged HRV’s ability to charge a fee based on turnover.
HRV charges approved Wagering Service Providers (WSP’s) a race field fee of 1.5% for the use of HRV race fields for wagering purposes.
Sportsbet’s fundamental argument was that the fee is discriminatory, not least because Tabcorp (who pays substantial amounts in excess of the race field fee under contractual arrangements with the Victorian Racing Industry) and on course bookmakers are exempt from the legislation.
Justice Mansfield has now handed down his decision.
In his judgment, Justice Mansfield found that:
1. The Victorian race fields legislation is valid;
2. WSP’s, who make a profit from wagering on Victorian harness racing, are obliged to make a payment, providing the fee is valid;
3. This means that WSP’s such as Sportsbet must pay a fee;
4. A fee levied on WSP’s based on turnover is valid;
5. HRV’s entire 1.5% of turnover race field fee imposed on Sportsbet was impermissible due to a 0.5% of turnover subsidy it pays to on course bookmakers for offering a bookmaking service to patrons at Victorian harness racing meetings.