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Western Australia to sell horse betting shop

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Western Australia state will sell its horse-race betting business and levy a new tax on foreign bookmakers, the state treasurer said on Tuesday.

The WA TAB could fetch as much as A$500 million ($353 million), The Australian Financial Review newspaper reported.

The sale, which won’t begin until next year, comes as the cash-strapped Western Australia state government sells assets to repair its budget.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the decision was in “the best interests of the whole state,” in a statement from his office, which gave no sale price. A 15 percent tax on bets taken from Western Australians will be levied from Jan. 1, it added.

His government has also promised to sell a majority stake in its electricity grid, via a public float.

Australia’s biggest betting company Tabcorp Holdings Ltd <TAH.AX>, a prospective buyer of the gambling business, said in a submission to the state government, published on Tuesday, that it would be “ready to respond” to a sale process.

($1 = 1.4146 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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