The Alliance for Gambling Reform today supported the proposed new point of consumption tax on foreign
bookmakers announced by the Victorian Government and called on all political parties and state governments
to get on with passing similar legislation as soon as possible.
Alliance spokesman and director Tim Costello recently met with Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas and said he
broadly supports today’s measures, although a higher tax rate than 8% and an earlier start date than January
1, 2019, would have been preferable.
“This is a long overdue reform but it is better late than never so The Alliance supports today’s initiative by
Victoria and hopes this is a catalyst for belated national action,” Mr Costello said. “It would have been better
to have national legislation but when negotiations with the Commonwealth fell apart last year, a state by state
approach was the only remaining option.”
“Victoria’s proposed 8% tax on net wagering revenue could have been higher but at least the government has
committed to review its operation in 2020, so I call on the Victorian opposition and upper house crossbenchers
to support the forthcoming legislation to get this done.”
The Alliance has long argued that lowly taxed foreign bookmakers operating through the Northern Territory
have been the main cause of the deluge of gambling advertising indoctrinating future generations and
poisoning Australian sport.
“It is scandalous that the 24 licensed bookmakers and betting exchanges in the Northern Territory were only
budgeted to pay a miserly $5.4 million in taxes (see p80 of 2017-18 NT budget) to Territorians in 2017-18 when
Australians are losing close to $2 billion a year gambling with these companies.” Mr Costello said.
“Why should Tabcorp be paying an estimated $71 million to the Victorian Government in wagering taxes in
2017-18 and $111 million to the NSW Government when its big foreign competitors like Sportsbet and
Ladbrokes contribute nothing to taxpayers in our two largest states?”
“Sportsbet’s parent company Paddy Power Betfair has been gloating (see p7 of full year results presentation)
about its soaring profits in Australia and can well afford to make a modest contribution to state governments
across Australia, such as what is proposed today by the Victorian Government.”
South Australia was the first state to move on a point of consumption tax which commenced on July 1, 2017,
at a headline rate of 15%, which Sportsbet has described as an effective rate of 7%. Victoria’s proposed 8%
rate will be similar, although transferring 1.5% to the racing industry will dilute the benefit for taxpayers.
The former West Australian Liberal Government announced a scheme scheduled to start on January 1, 2019,
which Sportsbet has described as an 11% tax on gambling expenditure. Last week’s first budget by the new WA
Labor Government showed overall gambling tax revenues are forecast to rise from $260 million in 2017-18, to
$295 million in 2018-19 and $328 million once the point of consumption tax is fully operational in the 2019-20
financial year, but legislation still needs to be passed.
The Queensland Government has announced it is following the South Australian model, with details expected
to be released in the state budget next month.
“It is disappointing only South Australia has actually passed legislation and imposed this tax so the onus is now
on all states to get on with legislating so we can have a uniform start date of January 1, 2019,” Mr Costello
said.
The NSW Government has been the slowest to move and only recently released this 13-page consultation
paper on the point of consumption proposal and is expected to announce its decision in the June 19 budget.
“The foreign bookies have been deluging our kids with ads because the super-profits from the failure to tax
them has attracted a flood of new competition fighting for market share in the lucrative online market,” Mr
Costello said.
“Introducing new state taxes across Australian which collectively brings in revenues of more than $200 million
once fully operational will clearly reduce the profits available for advertising which should benefit longsuffering
consumers and protect our kids from saturation gambling ads,” Mr Costello said.
“These foreign companies should give a bit back to the Australian community and their lobbyist, former
Senator Stephen Conroy, should stop trying to pressure various state and territory governments to delay and
minimise the tax.”