Randwick: set for A$150million redevelopment following Friday's decisionPICTURE: Getty Images
Sydney authorities hail new era after court ruling
Australia: As corporate bookmakers were counting their losses on Friday, racing administrators in New South Waleswere hailing a new era after the High Court upheld the state's race-fields legislation.
Bookmakers Sportsbet and betting exchange Betfair contested payment of a 1.5 per cent fee on turnover to use race-field information.
The High Court rejected the firms' claim that the fee breached free trade provisions of the Australian Constitution.
Racing NSW said the ruling would free up more than A$100 million in fees already collected, which it was holding pending the outcome of the case.
Racing NSW chairman John Messara said it was a victory for all in the industry and his organisation would now be able to move forward to implement plans to make racing in NSW a world leader.
"It's time for all of us to take off our battle fatigues, put on the overalls and start building a new future," Mr Messara said.
"The decision unlocks the funding that will flow directly to the people who work in racing.
"It is the beginning for NSW as we set our sights on becoming a leading jurisdiction in world racing."
The A$150m redevelopment of Randwick Racecourse and a A$24m upgrade at Rosehill formpart of that vision.
Peter V'Landys, Racing NSW chief executive, said money would start to flow to participants from as early as next week with increased prize-money the first objective.
A portion of the increases has been earmarked as payment for the horses' strappers who are among the lowest paid workers in the industry.
"This is not a victory for Racing NSW, it's a victory for the 50,000 participants who work in the racing industry," V'Landys said.
"The strapper will be paid a percentage under the new prize-money structure.
"We've got a long way to go yet. This is stage one but at least next week we can announce some substantial prize-money increases and there will be a payment made to strappers out of prize-money which we promised if we won this case.
"We will look at everybody in the industry from the strapper to the jockey to the owner to the float driver."
Following the High Court's ruling, Victorian authorities will now move to ensure a similar deal.
Racing Minister Denis Napthine said new legislation would be aimed at ensuring the Victorian racing industry received fair and reasonable returns for its racing product from wagering entities.
Racing NSW's interstate counterparts, Racing Victoria and Racing Queensland, both welcomed the decision.
Under an agreement which expires in August, wagering operators pay Racing Victoria a fee based on gross revenue rather than turnover.
"A report will now be provided to the Racing Victoria Board that will determine the structure and timing of any changes to our product fee regime," chief executive Rob Hines said.
The current arrangements in Queensland expire on June 30.
Other sporting bodies say they will study the judgment to determine any course of action on their part.
"It is a judgment that we will look at closely in terms of any opportunities it presents in terms of our arrangements with the betting operators," Australian Rugby League boss David Gallop said.
"We've been at the forefront of working with the other codes in establishing the principle that sports are entitled to compensation from companies that make money by running betting markets on our events and the decision reinforces that position."
All three racing codes, thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds, will benefit from the decision under the Racing Distribution Act, which allocates funding.