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Betfair deal opens a door to Queensland

THE validity of the sponsorship shutout of corporate bookmakers in New South Wales and Queensland is overdue for industry scrutiny, according to Betfair Australasia chief executive Giles Thompson, as the global betting exchange embarks on a landmark sponsorship of the Magic Millions sales company on Tuesday.

The two-year sponsorship deal will allow Betfair to push into the heavily guarded Queensland racing industry, albeit away from the state's racetracks, which are protected by an exclusivity contract with totalisator provider TattsBet.

Thompson hopes the Betfair-Magic Millions partnership will open the eyes of administrators to potential investment that could help the Queensland industry catch up to the more profitable southern states.

''Sponsoring race clubs and racing in NSW and Queensland is locked up to the local tote operators,'' he said. ''They have extremely long deals in place and unfortunately they are not commercial deals for racing.

''We would love to sponsor [racing and clubs] up in NSW and Queensland, and so would all the other corporate bookmakers, but it's a closed shop and sadly it is detrimental to the local industry.''

Thompson pointed to the success of corporate bookmaker sponsorships with race clubs in other states as key reasons why it was time for a change of practice in Queensland and NSW.


Away from straightforward race sponsorship, Thompson said that investment through club and carnival sponsorship had the potential to provide much-needed financial support at all levels of racing.

He called on Racing Queensland and Racing NSW to consider the long-term viability of protectionist deals, with a wealth of sponsorship dollars ready to be spent by corporate agencies.

''You only need to look at the Melbourne Racing Club and Moonee Valley Racing Club and the deals that they have done and the way those clubs have been able to take that investment and create really strong assets,'' he said. ''In Queensland and NSW at the moment, they are effectively giving away a very commercial product for free to the TAB.''

Thompson explained that Betfair had pursued Magic Millions for a sponsorship contract for some time and was thrilled to reach an agreement in late November. The on-track shutout in Queensland had forced Betfair to seek alternative sponsorship opportunities, with the breeding and sales sector of the racing industry providing an ideal fit.

''Betfair has been trying to sponsor Magic Millions for several years now,'' he said. ''We have always said that we would like to support racing at all levels.

''We are racing and sport-focused; therefore we look for targeted events where we can really speak to our target audience.''

In recent years, Betfair's marketing strategy has seen the company undertake major sponsorships of the Melbourne Racing Club, racing management group Aquanita Racing and, this year, of Mildura trainer John Castleman and his 90-start maiden Vote For Lust.