Western Australian Government Abandoned Plans to Sell WA TAB

The Western Australian government has had enough with the sale of WA TAB after three years of unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable buyer for the state-owned betting agency.

‘Balanced Outcome Cannot Be Achieved’

The government issued a statement this week, notifying the public that plans for the sale of WA TAB have now been ditched after not a single candidate to acquire the asset was capable of meeting the government’s “policy objectives,” reported local media ABC News.

Outlining the “significant time and effort” that the government has dedicated in its effort to divest WA TAB by balancing “the long-term interests of both the state and local racing industry,” Premier Mark McGowan stated that “despite exhaustive efforts, a balanced outcome cannot be achieved.”

The government statement also read that advanced negotiations with a government-preferred buyer had collapsed after the candidate could not provide guarantees that it would keep the financial commitments linked to the sale.

In October, there were reports of failed negotiations between the government and Matthew Tripp’s sportsbook Betr after the relatively new to the market sports betting operator became the front-runner in the bidding process, surpassing even Australian leader Tabcorp.

Western Australia passed legislation to allow the sale of WA TAB in 2019 and to sweeten the deal, legislators allowed the future buyer to offer electronic simulated racing games in TAB outlets, excluding the operator from the state-wide ban on poker machines and simulated racing games, the latter only available at Crown Perth.

Despite warnings from experts that the availability of virtual racing products at TAB outlets would expose the public to “the most dangerous form of gambling,” the Western Australian government commenced the procedure.

The process was halted in August 2020 during the pandemic but the sale recommenced later on after the government granted the request of Racing and Wagering WA (RWWA).

‘Financial, Regulatory and Animal Welfare Oversight’

Following the change of strategy, WA TAB is set to remain under the state government’s ownership and will continue to be operated by RWWA and the operator issued a statement to outline its determination to continue running the betting agency “for the benefit of the WA racing industry.”

RWWA will “maintain its strong financial, regulatory and animal welfare oversight across all codes,” the operator added, seeking to ensure the local racing industry that its interests will continue to be protected.

“The board believes the RWWA team has demonstrated its capability to successfully operate the WA TAB in a highly competitive environment over the past decade, while increasing prize money, supporting clubs and investing in infrastructure,” the statement read further.

Racing and Gaming Minister Tony Buti reiterated the government’s stance that “the Western Australian racing industry should rest assured” that WA TAB will continue to operate to the industry’s benefit.