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Bookies fight back against Victorian wagering tax

Victoria considering POC tax

AUSTRALIAN online bookmakers are fighting back against a point of consumption tax (POC) proposed by the Victorian state government.

Several individual Australian states have introduced, or have announced plans to integrate, a 15 percent POC tax on corporate bookmakers.

Victoria is the latest state to consider a POC tax, where a state government receives revenue from an online bookie for every bet made by a resident.

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The announcement comes as the Queensland state government declared it would be introducing a POC on bookmakers during the election, late last month.

The Queensland Labor party said it would be introducing the tax as part of a four-point plan in a bid to generate revenue over the next four years.

South Australia introduced a POC tax earlier this year, which came into effect on July 1, while Western Australia will enforce a 15 percent POC tax from January 2019.

While supporters claim that it will “level the playing field”, since Tabcorp and Tatts pay higher taxes than online bookies, insiders have said few bookmakers would be making a 15 percent margin on wagering.

“The downstream consequences for the wagering industry and consumers is very real, and we think the Victorian government is going to pay more attention than the other states have,” an insider told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Additionally, a Credit Suisse report revealed that the UK has not reduced wagering revenue since it introduced a national POC tax in 2014, but it has resulted in a decline in industry profits.

Australian online bookies are licensed in the Northern Territory, and while they pay taxes to the NT state government, POC tax-supporters claim it’s not enough.

However, bookies are arguing that they make a significant contribution to the Australian economy via jobs, taxes, and fees, which they pay to sports codes and state racing bodies.

Responsible Wagering Australia, which oversees corporate bookies like Sportsbet, Ladbrokes, and CrownBet among others, slammed the Queensland government for becoming the third jurisdiction to adopt the tax.

Instead, the group wants the Australian federal government to implement a national POC tax under the Consumer Protection Framework, which has been in the works ever since the government passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2016.

“In the last financial year in Victoria, RWA’s members employed more than 900 people, paid more than $127 million in wages, contributed $78 million to the racing industry and paid more than $11 million in sponsorships to support Victorian events and tourism,” a spokeswoman said.

While online betting site operators have criticised other states for introducing the POC tax, they are reportedly working hard to get Victorian Treasurer, Tim Pallas, to prevent any changes.

“Like all states, we are looking into this national issue and will consider feedback received as part of an extensive consultation process,” a Victorian government spokesman said.

The tax regime was reportedly discussed at the first Board of Treasurers meeting, hosted by South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis, on November 21.

“It is vital that the states and territories collaborate with each other and the Commonwealth to produce the best outcomes for all Australians, now and into the Future,” NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, said following the meeting.