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Australia’s Victoria state is about to tax online cambling firms at half the rate of other states after a joint lobbying effort by allied bookies in front with ALP factional heavyweight Stephen Conroy.
Tim Pallas, Victoria State Treasurer stated that the 8% point-of-consumption tax would come into effect on 1 January and raise about $30 million in revenue, with most of the proceeds to be funnelled into Victoria’s hospitals and charities fund. South Australia has since last year levied a 15 per cent consumption on online gambling and Queensland and Western Australia have flagged their intention to levy a tax at the same rate.
Tim Costello, anti-gambling campaigner mocked the state’s commitment to tax the $1.2 billion wagering industry at about half this rate as a “giggle’’. Executive director of Responsible Wagering Australia, Stephen Conroy published a statement expressing disappointment with the new tax.
“Whilst RWA acknowledges the Victorian Government’s consultative approach, this new tax will nevertheless have significant negative and far-reach consequences for Victoria,’’ Mr Conroy said.
Mr Pallas said all negotiations over the rate of tax were handled by his department. Pressed on whether he had met Mr Conroy or had any discussions with the long-serving former Labor senator over the past 12 months, Mr Pallas said that “to be best of my knowledge,’’ he hadn’t.
“If somebody thinks there is somebody out there who is pulling strings, let me assure you, the only motivation that I am focused on is making sure that the Victorian tax payers gets the best possible outcome and the Victorian racing industry is adequately protected,’’ Mr Pallas said.
The proposed tax, which will require legislation, will also apply to Tabcorb, raising the rate of tax for the Victorian wagering and betting licensee from six to eight per cent. The tax will be levied on the winnings of bookmakers. About 1.5 per cent will go to the racing industry to “make good’’ on losses from existing arrangements.
Mr Pallas said the tax was needed to “plug a leak’’ in the state’s tax base. Under the current arrangements, the leading corporate bookmakers operate tax free.
The tax will apply to bets placed by punters within Victorian state borders. Although VPN and other technologies enable mobile phone users to conceal their location, Mr Pallas said the onus would be on bookmakers to accurately declare each month their net revenue from bets taken within the state.
He said the disparity in tax rates, although not idea, would not lead to a concentration of gambling advertising in Victoria.
“We are at a point at the moment where there is zero per cent being paid by these online bookies. If that explosion were going to occur it probably would have happened by now.’’
Source: European Gaming Industry News