Controversial Betfair launched

Controversial betting exchange Betfair has officially launched its Australian and New Zealand operations.

The exchange – which allows punters to set the odds at which they want to bet and to back losers – has been taking bets since February 7.

But the company started processing bets through its Tasmanian exchange just six weeks ago after the roll-out of USD 10 million in infrastructure.

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon and James Packer, chief executive with PBL which jointly owns the company along with Betfair UK, attended the official launch in Hobart today.

It heard that almost one million bets were now being placed per week through the website and processed through Hobart.

“In six weeks we’ve had 100 per cent up-time … and we’re now processing more bets today than transactions on the Australian stock exchange,” Betfair corporate and business affairs director Andrew Twaits said today.

Betfair’s establishment in Australia was rocky however, with the established betting agencies and many in the racing industry opposing the move.

The Tasmanian Government also went against the advice of fellow Labor states by granting Betfair the license it needed to operate.

“Many of our staunchest opponents in the early days are now embracing Betfair and working with us, which is really encouraging,” Mr Twaits said.

“It’s an important fact that 30 per cent of the punters who bet on Australian racing are from overseas, so we actually think we are bringing new money in to the racing industry here.”

Mr Twaits said Betfair’s move into Hobart created 75 jobs but the workforce was set to increase to 150 in another year.