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Bride Accusation in Australia

Written by: Dana Mayers
Thursday, October 23, 2008

Australian Tabcorp has denied a payment of $20 million to its rival not to bid for a license. The gaming giant says the payment was for a sponsorship deal with Clubs Victoria and not so they wouldn’t bid that would break their duopoly on poker machines.

Tabcorp and Tatts Group currently have the duopoly on poker machines. They stated that the sponsorship did not involve Clubs Victoria to bow out from bidding on operating poker machines from 2012.

“The Age” had an article on Tabcorp that alleged they offered an amount of $5 million and then payments of $1.5 million annually for the next 10 years to the Government to renew Tabcorp’s license past 2012 and to continue the duopoly. Elmer Funke Kupper, Tabcorp’s managing director, is accused of making the offer on March 7th which just so happens to be the same day Clubs Victoria indicated it was planning to operate poker machines.

A week later, Clubs Victoria former president, Leon Wiegard, supposedly received a new offer from Mr. Kupper. The updated offer now had conditions that Clubs Victoria not participate in the bidding process for gaming licenses and to have a press release stating they support the current structure and there should be no changes.

Chief Executive, Margaret Kearney, failed to reply to the new offer and the offer was removed by Mr. Kupper according to the documents. Clubs Victoria’s lawyers say they hold duplicates of all emails passed between Tabcorp executives.

Tabcorp denies all wrong doings with Clubs Victoria and are disappointed in how the facts are being misrepresented. Mr. Kupper has rejected all accusations that Tabcorp has been implicated in any anti-competitive conduct.

Graeme Samuel who is the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had no comment on the $20 million inducement, stating that it was now in the courts.

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