Festive bookies betting in bloom

Festive bookies betting in bloom

It's springtime, and corporate bookmakers are like the famous roses of Flemington Racecourse: in full bloom. It seems you can't turn on the TV or log on to the internet without running into some kind of promotion urging a punt.

Alan Eskander's Betstar offers something called "double fixed odds", Tom Waterhouse will pay out on fourth and fifth place in the Melbourne Cup and all and sundry offer free betting credits to new customers (except in Victoria and NSW, where the practice is a little bit illegal).

Bucking the trend is Northern Territory licensed Betezy, which has quietly canned a tipping contest that was due to come to a head as the roses begin to wilt on the final day of the Spring Racing Carnival, Stakes Day, November 9.

The move robs the contest's top tipsters of the chance to win the grand prize: a trip for two to next year's Dubai World Cup, $1000 in spending money and $5000 credited to the winner's Betezy account.

An additional $1000 betting credit was available for second place and third place was to be credited $500.

Sometime in July, the Tipezy website apparently announced that the contest had been suspended until the spring.

CBD would love to be more specific, but while other betting websites are bursting with odds and offers the Tipezy website is now just a billboard congratulating the winners of last season's AFL and NRL tipping contests.

In October, Betezy notified punters the contest was now closed "due to lack of interest" - so it looks like the trip to the desert kingdom to hang out with His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan is off. Betezy's Robert Parker told CBD he would find out what happened and call back.

That has yet to happen.

CBD also asked the NT Racing Commission if it had any concerns about the disappearing competition. "Free tipping contests are not regulated by the Racing Commission," chairman Richard O'Sullivan said.

The commission has made adverse findings against Betezy four times since 2011, most recently finding in July last year that "a prevailing culture of arrogance, passive governance, and complete administrative disorganisation has prevailed at Betezy for quite some time".

Betezy was fined $45,000 but its licence was not revoked.

Exec rejig at Virgin

Richard Branson's former right-hand man, David Baxby, has gained a new title at Virgin Australia - and not before time.

With Sir Dick having more than halved his stake in the airline, analysts have been concerned about his over-representation on the Australian airline's board.

Virgin Group has two seats at the table despite holding just 10 per cent, a situation that became noticeable once Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Etihad surpassed the English entrepreneur without gaining a voice at those all-important director meetings.

Virgin's annual report shows Baxby, who is standing for re-election next month, is a non-executive director.

But a Virgin spokeswoman said the velvet-coat-wearing Baxby had now become an "independent director". The former Goldman Sachs banker stepped down as Virgin Group's joint-CEO in June.

That leaves New Zealander Josh Bayliss as Virgin Group's sole representative.

NIB tests tourism

NIB has found an innovative way to test how supportive its shareholders are of its plan to expand into the overseas tourism market to boost its bottom line.

The insurer used the testing of its electronic voting system at its annual meeting in Newcastle on Tuesday to conduct a straw poll among shareholders on the question of whether they would consider travelling overseas for medical tourism. The "resolution" was passed by 8 per cent. "The demand's there," NIB's chairman, Steve Crane, crowed.

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