Online betting companies hit with new tax on Victorian gambling losses

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas announced the point of consumption tax on Monday.

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas announced the point of consumption tax on Monday. Photo: Getty

Online betting companies will pour another $30 million into state coffers after Treasurer Tim Pallas announced an 8 per cent tax on Victorian punter losses.

But the ‘point of consumption’ tax, which kicks in next January, will be almost half that of South Australia’s 15 per cent tax.

The reforms mean tax will be based on where the punter is, rather than the location of companies like Sportsbet and CrownBet or their accounts.

“Online betting and wagering agencies take a huge amount of money out of Victoria. It’s time they started making a fair and proper contribution,” Mr Pallas said in a statement on Monday.

Most bookmakers are licensed in the Northern Territory, where taxes are lower.

The NT budget last year showed the 24 bookmakers licensed in the state paid just $5.4 million in tax in 2017-18.

The Victorian state budget, handed down two weeks ago, showed racing revenue was decreasing. Expected revenue for 2018-19 was $70 million, and would decrease to $67, $63 and $59 million year on year.

The decrease was largely attributed to gamblers moving towards fixed-odds gambling websites and away from pari-mutuel wagering.

Mr Pallas said Monday’s announcement was about making sure bookmakers paid their fair share of tax in Victoria.

“We’ve got a situation at the moment where online gaming operators are effectively avoiding tax,” he told reporters.

Other agencies already paying a 6 per cent Victorian tax will also pay the higher rate.

Companies will be responsible for working out the location of people placing the bets.

“They are responsible corporate citizens, we’d expect them not to break the law,” Mr Pallas said.

Other jurisdictions are considering a similar tax. NSW Racing Minister Paul Toole last week told The New Daily it was under consideration after submissions closed on March 29 on a consultation paper considering the tax.

The Queensland government announced it would follow the South Australian model, with details expected to be released in the state budget next month.

“We expect other states will look at what Victoria is doing here; we think there is a law of diminishing returns around the revenue that the state would get by setting the tax higher,” Mr Pallas said of the lower rate.

The Victorian Racing Industry will get 1.5 per cent of the net wagering revenue to soften the hit on turnover.

Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) said the new tax would “have significant negative and far-reaching consequences for Victoria”.

“Last financial year, the online wagering industry directly employed around 1000 Victorians, paid $6 million in Victorian payroll tax and paid $80 million to the Victorian racing industry,” RWA executive director, former senator and Victorian Labor heavyweight Stephen Conroy said.

“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.”

Alliance for Gambling Reforms director Tim Costello said it was a long overdue reform and called on the rest of the country to add a point of consumption tax.

“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,” Mr Costello said in a statement.

“Victoria’s proposed 8 per cent 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.”

Shadow Treasurer Michael O’Brien claimed this was the 12th new or increased tax by the Andrews Labor government.

“This particular tax will certainly go on to punters,” he said.

“It would have been better to have actually had a leadership position and have a national approach.”

Greens leader Samantha Ratnam slammed the government for keeping the tax rate down.

“This is [a] direct result of the influence gambling lobbyists hold over Labor,” she said in a statement.

The government will review the impacts of the tax within the first 18 months of operation.

-with AAP

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