Racing officials in New South Wales are rejoicing after a years-long challenge to their race fields legislation was this morning thrown out by the High Court.
Chief Justice Robert French said the court believed Racing NSW was entitled to charge a rights fee for companies offering wagering on its product.
The decision is expected to set a precedent for racing administrators in other states, as well as rights access for other sports.
Racing NSW had been holding more than $100 million in fees collected pending the outcome of the case.
The money can now flow throughout the industry across the state.
Sportsbet and Betfair had argued the fee, calculated on 1.5 per cent of turnover, was unfair and discriminated against operators based outside NSW.
Sportsbet, registered in the Northern Territory, and Betfair (Tasmania) claimed the fee model protected Tabcorp and NSW on-course bookmakers.
They said a fee based on gross profit was more equitable.
But in this morning’s judgment, the court said the burden of the fees was imposed uniformly on both intrastate and out-of-state wagering operators.
“The High Court held that the appellant had not demonstrated the fee conditions imposed a discriminatory burden of a protectionist kind upon interstate trade,” it said.
Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’Landys, who led the fight for the legislation in the face of heated criticism from some quarters, said it was a great day for racing.
“Relief is an understatement. This is a relief for the 50,000 participants in NSW. This is a victory for them today,” he told Sky Racing.
“There will be prize money increases next week, there’ll be some substantial money spent on infrastructure throughout NSW.
Leading Sydney trainer John O’Shea says the decision secures the future of participants.
“It’s going to be a very buoyant time in NSW in the near future, and I cannot believe the jubilation at our office today,” he said.
“We’re the only state in Australia that has the funding model and other states are probably looking at it and thinking they’re missing out.”