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Queensland takes punt on betting changes

Racing Queensland is confident its gamble to attract extra revenue through wagering will be a success.

RQ has announced changes for bookmakers and totalizators to publish and use Queensland thoroughbred, harness and greyhound race fields from the start of this year.

The changes mean the Racing Information Fee will be lower than that established by previous RQ boards.

The move should encourage more betting through corporate bookmakers and Betfair but also has the potential to take turnover away from RQ’s major backer UBET.

The new base rate for bookmakers is proposed to be 1.75 per cent on turnover or 20 per cent of the net revenue, whichever is higher.

Queensland has premium meetings on which a high rate of 2.5 per cent or 30 per cent of revenue can be charged.

However, the majority of those have gone with only 16 meetings now carrying the premium tag.

RQ chief executive Eliot Forbes said the current RIF policy earned about $60 million annually and the changes were likely to increase that dividend.

The proposed changes to the RIF policy followed a detailed review of the existing structure which was in place since November 2015.

The review also took account of issues such as free bets, treatment of certain bet types and minimum bet limits.

However, there will be no change to the minimum bet rule in Queensland with RQ saying it is a matter for the state government.

Forbes said approved wagering operators actively participated in the review process.

“We were keen to review the performance of the current race fields model as well as seek input to the type of model that would deliver increased customer engagement in Queensland racing product,” Forbes said.

He said in developing a new policy, RQ was working against a backdrop of an operating deficit and a difficult financial situation for Queensland racing.

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