LAST week was the anniversary of the famous punters strike – a revolt against the overseas corporate bookmakers – and still the war rages on.

It was further exacerbated recently by Racing Queensland’s astonishing decision not to impose minimum betting limits on the Corporates that applies elsewhere.

RQ has been accused of welching on a promise. Some accuse RQ of ‘being in bed with the corporates’. But generally it is being hailed as the big U turn that promised minimum bet legislation last year.

CEO of RQ, Eliot Forbes, has been the target of severe and constant criticism by gambling forums for RQ’s refusal to introduce the legislation to bring Queensland into line with southern states. And none more scathing than this article penned by the chief and founder of Fair Wagering Australia, Luke MacDonald, in a recent newsletter:

“I wrote to Dr Eliot Forbes when he was CEO of Tasmanian Racing and asked him what he thought of introducing a minimum bet limit in Tasmania.

 I was surprised but appreciative of his honesty when he said that Tasmanian Racing would not be introducing a minimum bet limit as they were too reliant on corporate bookmaker sponsorship and advertising – and they could not risk that revenue by upsetting corporate bookies.

He is now CEO of Racing Queensland and he has carried that attitude with him to the the much larger Queensland Racing market,” MacDonald wrote.

So now you know.

According to a report in The Courier Mail recently, the Office of Minister (Grace Grace) confirmed that the decision had been made in consultation with Racing Queensland but RQ officers later distanced themselves from the situation, tweeting: “As previously stated RQ does not have the power to introduce MBL under legislative framework’’.

Fair Wagering Australia has called for Forbes’ resignation with a vote of no confidence.

The Fair Wagering founder continued: “Worse than this unethical and anti-competitive attitude is his, and Racing Queensland’s, complete lack of listening and engaging with their best customer- the punter.

 “I recently wrote to Dr Forbes again asking him what RQ would be doing now that both Racing NSW and Racing Victoria had both introduced minimum bet limits. I posted it on twitter with his and Queensland Racing Minister Grace Grace’s twitter handles attached.

“It got a lot of traction. You would think that they might take notice of this and engage with me or other punters about the issue – however I was simply told RQ and Dr Forbes would not debate commercial policy on social media and therefore they would not give me (or any other punter) any further information on the matter.

“I also wrote Grace Grace and asked her opinion on RQ introducing a minimum bet limit. I have never received a response and I have followed up with her Office three times requesting a response, but still haven’t got one.

“Frustrated by their stonewalling I independently contacted an RQ Board member (all participant groups except for the punter is represented on the RQ Board) and asked to have their ear for 10 minutes to tell them what it’s like to be a punter in today’s environment. They said they were only too happy to talk to me but a few days later cancelled because they were told that management had already dealt with punters on the issue.

“I then tried to contact Radio TAB. After many unsuccessful tries I gave up.” Macdonald said.

 RQ Board chairman ‘Silent’ Steve Wilson has surfaced with a defense for his embattled CEO, saying: “The Board has full confidence in our CEO who we’re delighted to have in the rebuild of Racing Queensland”.

Yes, well, I am sure that helped, Steve – and by the way we wonder at what stage the foundations for the ‘rebuild’ are at.

But that’s another story.

Professional punter Daniel O’Sullivan said the policy would see Queensland’s market share continue to dwindle.

“It defies logic that an industry will grow and prosper over the long-term by allowing policy which turns away customers that are willing to contribute revenue, under the same terms and conditions as other customers,” he said.

Labelling the decision ‘short-sighted’, O’Sullivan said: “There’s no doubt Racing Queensland will look back and lament the decisions of the current Board to encourage a biased wagering landscape and allow market share to be lost to other jurisdictions,”


Deputy Opposition leader Deb Frecklington was highly critical. “We will be at a disadvantage to other States because Labor’s policy is to favour multi-national corporate bookmakers who aren’t based here and don’t pay tax here. This is a decision that will cost jobs, force punters interstate and funnel money out of the Queensland racing industry.”


Racing Queensland announced recently that the newly negotiated Racing Information Fee deal will be a ‘boon for the industry’.

 Under the terms of the deal, the charges for corporate bookies to publish Queensland thoroughbred, harness and greyhound race fields will actually DECREASE. But RQ believes the shortfall will be offset by extra revenue generated by increased wagering.


Can you believe that?


The rule that RQ rejects is the one that enforces wagering operators to accept win bets on New South Wales metropolitan racing up to a liability of $2,000 applying to fixed odds bets placed after 9am on the day of the race.

Minimum win limits of $1,000 also apply for NSW non-metro thoroughbred races.

Corporate bookmakers are not subjected to the same bet requirements as on-course bookmakers.

WHY? That’s the question that no-one will answer. 

Rails bookmakers operating on Saturday metropolitan meetings are required to accept win bets to a liability of $5,000.

Non-Saturday Metro meetings carry a minimum liability of $3,000 with country races set at $1,500 and picnic and non-TAB meetings at $1,000. 

On course bookmakers are required to take bets to all limits from all punters.

Paul Degenhardt, another critic of the corporates, wants minimum bet requirements across all racing jurisdictions. 

“Minimum bets guarantees on ALL market at ALL times.

“Make the spineless corporates accept all bets to at least $2,500....instead of banning and restricting punters and concentrating on leeching off problem gamblers,”  he said. 

High profile professional punter, Richard Irvine, has also been vocal on the issue. 

“The bookmaking industry in Australia has been hijacked by foreign raiders who are intent on expanding the highly unethical business practices they have been allowed to get away with – mostly in the UK and Europe – by ignorant, complicit regulators.”

Irvine said punters that were not considered economically viable to a bookmaker were having their accounts closed or restricted on this highly contentious issue that effects a lot of people inside and on the fringe of the vast racing industry. 

There’s an election looming. Surely there is a vote or three on this issue.

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