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The Australian Wagering Council says Racing Victoria’s changes to its race fields fees will send more punters to bet with illegal offshore bookmakers.

The AWC, which represents Australia’s biggest online bookmakers, released a statement denouncing RV’s new race fields fee framework on Friday.

AWC members will pay 30 per cent of their gross revenue to use Victorian race fields at 10 Premium Group One meetings while bookmakers could be charged 15 per cent of revenue at more than 400 standard meetings from July 1.

AWC chief executive Chris Downy says the fee increase will push up the cost of bookmakers doing business in Australia, which will ultimately affect punters through lower prices offered.

Downy said lower prices from agencies licensed in Australia would cause punters to bet with illegal operators and undermine racing’s integrity.

“Racing Victoria must recognise that any impact on the competitiveness of the product offered by Australian licensed wagering operators will drive clients to seek better prices or different products with offshore, illegal unregulated operators,” Downy said.

“Illegal offshore operators and local SP bookmakers pay no product fees or taxes in Australia and they will never do so.”

Downy said RV would be better served by improving its digital platforms and renewing its focus on providing the best possible experience for customers.

RV has imposed its new race field fee policy for 12 months, a move Downy said denied online betting agencies the chance to engage in long-term planning.

“Increased costs may also affect our members future expansion plans, the capacity to invest in technological development and the amount of sponsorship monies available to be directed to racing and sport,” he said.

“The fact the new product fees are set only for 12 months also stifles short and long term commercial and strategic planning for our members.”

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