Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Bookmaking firm imposes partial boycott on Ql -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Bookmaking firm imposes partial boycott on Qld races

Reporter: Genevieve Hussey

KERRY O'BRIEN: With the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival in full swing and punters gearing up for
their annual Melbourne Cup splurge, a new betting controversy threatens to tarnish Australian
horseracing once again.

Oddly enough, it pits bookmakers against bookmakers.

The boss of Australia's biggest bookmaking firm, with an annual turnover getting close to $1
billion, says his company doesn't trust the framing of betting odds in some Brisbane races and will
impose a selective boycott.

Queensland Racing officials have defended the industry, although the state's regulatory body says
it's prepared to investigate the allegations.

Coincidentally, Brisbane was the scene of perhaps Australia's most infamous race-fixing scandal
back in 1984, when an unfancied horse racing under the name Fine Cotton romped to victory after a
huge betting plunge.

In fact, a ring-in.

How much substance is there to this latest controversy?

Genevieve Hussey reports.

LUKE BENJAMIN, BOOKMAKER: If it was on a stock market, it might be insider trading, but there is
really no law that says what price you can put up about a horse.

LINDSAY GALLAGHER, BRISBANE BOOKMAKERS ASSOCIATION: Every time they lose, they're just sore losers.

It's just a sad case.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Spring marks the biggest betting season in Australian horse racing.

But now racing in the state of Queensland is under a cloud as bookmakers accuse each other of

MICHAEL SULLIVAN, SPORTINGBET: They may have looked into it, but nothing's changed.

And it's not good enough.


Would you call it a scam?

MICHAEL SULLIVAN: "Scam" is one word for it - probably a very good word for it.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Michael Sullivan is the chief executive of Northern Territory-based Sportingbet.

It's the largest bookmaking firm in Australia with 6,000 clients and a turnover of $800 million a

He claims by stacking the odds some Queensland bookies are making it tough for his company and
others like it.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN: The price of particular horses are being inflated way past the value that they
should be.

These prices are then sent around Australia.

Now, what the people who are doing that do with that, that's for others to work out.

I'm not so sure about that.

Others have got to come to that conclusion.

But basically those horses' prices are being inflated.

Then when commission agents around Australia eventually get their money on it, the prices are
brought back in.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: By exaggerating the odds for a horse, for example, Queensland bookies could
theoretically force up the odds being offered interstate.

Anyone backing that horse, while the odds are long, stands to make a lot of money if the horse wins
and bookies like Sportingbet take a hiding.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN: Our principal concern as a company is in relation to the authenticity of the
bookmakers' fluctuations that we're getting out of south-east Queensland, specifically Brisbane.

Now, as a company, we've had to take a position that we don't trust the integrity of those odds.

Our company believes the prices of several horses across the board in Brisbane and south-east
Queensland are being inflated by on-course bookmakers.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Not surprisingly, there have been denials from leading Queensland bookmakers.

Lindsay Gallagher hasn't been singled out as one of the bookies involved, but he wanted to speak
out on behalf of the Brisbane Bookmakers Association.

He says there is no truth to the allegations.

LINDSAY GALLAGHER: No, none whatsoever.

The prices have got to be on more than one board, a couple of boards before they go away.

They are there to be taken.

And it's the authentic price If it's the wrong price in their opinion, they don't have to bet it,
and if they're not happy with the market, let them put a market out.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Lindsay Gallagher says it's a case of sour grapes.

LINDSAY GALLAGHER: Nothing's in disrepute except that he's a whinging bookie and he can't cop the

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: If Michael Sullivan's claims are true, this may be the biggest scandal in
Queensland racing since the Fine Cotton affair in the 1980s when a heavily backed ring-in won a

But Queensland Racing doesn't believe the industry's image will be tarnished long-term by the

BOB BENTLEY, QLD RACING: I think if everybody takes a cold shower and has a look at this in the
cold light of day and takes a proper view of it, I don't think it will have long-term effects, but
the point is it's totally inappropriate the way the complaint was been made.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: The Queensland Government says there have been complaints into the alleged
practice in the past, but investigations have found no evidence.

Coincidentally, the claims come as Victoria's chief steward Des Gleeson arrives in Brisbane for a
two-day workshop for the state's racing stewards.

Queensland Racing Chairman Bob Bentley says an official complaint is yet to be made, but if it is,
it will be investigated.

BOB BENTLEY: As soon as we get the official complaint, we'll start the process, and Mr Sullivan, if
he's got any comments or problems about the way races are being run, he's more than welcome to look
at the stewards' footage, stewards' reports, make comments.

It will all be done on a confidential basis and we're quite happy to make the findings public.

LUKE BEHRMANN, BOOKMAKER: It's not a very well-kept secret.

Everybody in the bookmaking and punting fraternity around Australia knows it's going on.

Brisbane authorities, up till now, have seemed unwilling to do anything about it, but it's their
issue to control.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Sydney bookmaker Luke Behrmann says some interstate bookies have had enough.

LUKE BEHRMANN: It will come to a stage where the bigger bookies in Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin
will have to start making up their own prices on these races, that's really the next answer,
because it's going to become totally unreliable to follow what's coming out of these interstate

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Sportingbet claims the situation has cost it hundreds of thousands of dollars and
it will now refuse to take bets on some races in Queensland.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN: We've had to scale back our business in Queensland, we've had to scale back our
new clients who are interested in looking at betting in Queensland and we've had to scale back the
offerings we'd make to our existing clients and it's not the way we like to run our business.

LINDSAY GALLAGHER: I've got a philosophy that winners blame themselves when they lose and losers
blame everyone else and maybe you've got to work out what he really is.