Luxbet sues welching coal magnate; tough penalties for Aussie race fixers; election bet ban proposed

luxbet-tinkler-australiaWhile Crown Ltd.’s James Packer is #3 on Forbes Asia’s list of the richest Australians, last year’s cover boy Nathan Tinkler (pictured right) failed to make the list at all this year. Tinkler heavily leveraged himself to build up his coal mining business, but when the price of coal fell by a third, well… it’s like Warren Buffett said: when the tide goes out, you find out who’s been swimming naked. How exposed are Tinkler’s balls? In addition to the $700m or so he owes banks and hedge funds, he also owes $136k to Luxbet, Tabcorp’s Darwin-based online gambling offshoot. Luxbet has filed proceedings against Tinkler in Northern Territory Supreme Court, but since Tinkler also owes the Aussie taxman $2.7m, Luxbet is in a very long queue to get paid.

Independent MP Nick Xenophon, who has demonized nearly every form of gambling – from in-play wagers to video poker machines to social gaming – has now targeted election betting. Xenophon and fellow pokie-hating Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie say they’ll introduce legislation to stop wagering on the outcome of federal or state elections because political insiders might use their access to polling data to game the system. The two Independent MPs’ ire was reportedly sparked by a Sportsbet newspaper ad featuring Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott, but we suspect election betting is just #68 on their ‘Evils of Gambling’ hit list.

In response to the melodramatic MPs’ proposal, Sportsbet issued a statement saying it had “strict caps” on the size of wagers for such novelty props, and if a large or unusual bet comes in, “our markets are immediately shut down – thus ensuring integrity.” Sportingbet Australia boss Michael Sullivan said his firm had “never had any integrity issues on election betting in the past and does not expect to have any in the future.”

The Australian Racing Board (ARB) says anyone caught attempting to fix the outcome of a race will be banned from the sport for a minimum of five years. The ARB released tough new regulations this week designed to curb chicanery, including a two-year ban for jockeys who bet on or own race horses, and three-year bans for trainers who give horses prohibited substances. Even administering sodium bicarb via a horse’s nostrils (which soaks up lactic acid in a horse’s stomach, boosting endurance) will result in a one-year disqualification. Anyone caught using an electronic device to speed up a nag is gone for two years while administering any drug on race day without a steward’s approval carries a six-month suspension. And any old granny caught giving a horse a carrot or sugar cube will be sentenced to knit leg warmers for every horse in Australia.