Gaming Minister Colin Holt has told Treasurer Mike Nahan he will not support the sale of WA TAB if the money goes towards paying down the mounting state debt, local media reports.
Instead, Holt has reportedly demanded the money to be directed towards the state’s racing industry. “The State Government will not proceed with a sale of the WA TAB unless there are clear benefits for the future of the racing industry in WA. My first responsibility is to the racing industry.” said Holt. “My focus is ensuring the industry in WA, including country racing, succeeds, is sustainable in the long term and continues to make a strong contribution to the economy.”
The news is a blow to Treasurer and Premier Colin Barnett who have been trying to address growing state debt, now headed toward the $40 billion (US$28.9 billion) mark.
Potential bidders for WA TAB’s $1 billion deal include Australian gaming giants Tatts Group and Tabcorp, who currently owns the other former government TABs throughout Australia.
Holt said he expected the Western Australian Racing Representative Group to deliver a racing requirements report to ensure the racing industry’s views are present in any discussions relating to the sale of the TAB.