Online bookies face $30m gambling tax hit

Business News

Victoria ( Australia ) will impose an 8% point-of-consumption tax on online betting agencies, barely half the rate introduced or promised in other states.

The tax would start from January and would raise an estimated $30m a year, the state’s treasurer, Tim Pallas, announced on Monday.

Critics of the gambling industry had expressed concern that Victoria’s rate would undercut those of other states.

South Australia brought in a 15% tax last July, Western Australia’s 15% tax is due to be implemented in January and Queensland has promised to follow suit.

Tim Costello, of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, told Fairfax Media the industry body Responsible Wagering Australia should “stop trying to pressure various state and territory governments to delay and minimise the tax”.

On Monday RWA said it was disappointed with Victoria’s announcement but acknowledged the government’s “consultative approach”.

“The online wagering industry already pays a significant amount of consumption tax through the GST, as well as corporate income tax to the federal government,” its executive director, Stephen Conroy, said.

“An 8% [tax] does not adequately account for these significant contributions and will result in Victoria having one of the highest effective wagering tax rates in the world.”

Pallas told News Corp: “We’re making sure online betting companies pay their fair share of tax in Victoria.

“We will continue to consult the industry and other stakeholders as we finalise legislation to implement the point-of-consumption tax.”

He defended setting the tax at 8%, saying, “We don’t want to do any harm to that industry.”

Anti-gambling groups had pushed for a rate of 15% or more and for the money to be spent on hospitals and social welfare. Corporate bookmakers and their lobbyists wanted a lower tax rate, saying it could put jobs at risk. Tabcorp-Tatts, which operates tote betting, wanted a national rate.

The tax will start in January, dependent on legislation passing parliament. The tax will apply on all bets places in Victoria and companies will be responsible for working out the location of people placing the wagers.