Punting on Border Park
By DARREN COYNE
THE GOLD Coast's biggest bookie has taken a leave of absence from Queensland Racing and gone to the dogs ... at Border Park Raceway at Tweed Heads.
In a move that will open the Tweed Shire to punters from around the world, Lloyd Merlehan and his son Tristan have opened an internet betting business called TopSport.
Their office will be based at Border Park Raceway.
"I believe the future of racing is on the internet and that sports betting is surpassing racing with regards to betting," Mr Merlehan said.
Mr Merlehan, who has been a bookie for just over 20 years, is considered one of the leading bookmakers in the country.
His son Tristan also has been a trackside bookie at Border Park.
However, at present he is completing a Bachelor of Commerce at Bond University.
They are directors of Merlehan Bookmaking Pty Ltd, which now operates the internet betting site TopSport.
Their company was granted a licence from the NSW Gaming and Racing Authority.
The business also gained approval from the Greyhound and Harness Racing Regulatory Authority.
Mr Merlehan, who obviously is no stranger to a punt, is gambling on the future of betting with the move to the internet.
"The young generation is all tuned into the internet," he said.
"From a bookmaker's point of view there are very little overheads in a business like that."
Apart from the internet operation, Mr Merlehan will continue his work as a trackside bookie at Border Park on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
His move to the Tweed brings with it a bagful of punters.
"Last Saturday I held $1.7 million, which has got to be some sort of record," he said.
"I'm going to bundle up all of my telephone clients, which is 95 per cent of my hold, and move them to Border Park," he said.
Those clients include punters wanting to place anywhere between $10 and $50,000 to $100,000 on sports aside from racing.
Mr Merlehan said he was receiving bets on sports including AFL, soccer, boxing and baseball.
"Last week on the first day of operation one astute person rang up and backed the Roosters, $140,000 to $20,0000, to win the NRL premiership," he said.
"At the moment we can bet on every sporting event going and all the group and listed races.
"A bloke logged on from Spain the other night which shows our door is open to the entire world.
"We're now in direct competition with Darwin-based bookmakers."
Mr Merlehan began work earlier this week at a Wednesday phantom meeting held at Border Park.
To place a bet with Lloyd and Tristan log on to www.topsport.com.au