Sunday November 30,2014 : AUSSIE PROVINCE URGED TO MORE HEAVILY TAX ONLINE BOOKIES
Politician says internet bookmakers don't pay enough, but bookmakers have a different view.
Australian Senator Nick Xenophon is now well known, if hardly popular, for his persistently anti-online gambling opinions and campaigns Downunder, and over the weekend he made the media headlines once again with a recommendation that the provincial government of the Northern Territory "squeeze more money" out of online bookmakers based in Darwin.
Xenophon claims that the bookmakers oversaw more than A$8.5 billion in bets last year, but paid only A$2.5 million in tax to the NT government, which applies a relatively low tax cap regime in order to attract companies to the territory.
ABC News reports that 13 bookmakers are currently licensed in the Northern Territory, including Tom Waterhouse, Centrebet, Bet365, Sportsbet and Luxbet.
Each online bookmaker licensed in the NT paid 10 percent of betting profits until they reached the cap, which was set at A$250,000 for the past five years, but has more than doubled this year to A$550,000.
These tax caps are an absolute gift to bookmakers, Sen. Xenophon claimed, adding:
"They must be laughing all the way to their offshore bank accounts. The Northern Territory government needs to squeeze more money out of these operators."
Whilst withholding a direct opinion on the question of whether bookies are currently paying sufficient tax, Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles told reporters that financial spinoffs from the bookmaking industry made its participation crucial for the local economy.
"What we're happy with is the economic multipliers that come through having these businesses in the Territory," Giles said.
"It's not just about the level of tax that a bookmaker pays, it's also about the staff that is employed there, where they live, where they spend their money, their partners and their families."
Earlier this year Aussie gambling institution Tabcorp accused the online bookmaking industry of operating at the expense of the horse racing business.
Tabcorp pays a proportional tax rate with no cap, which saw it pay $154 million tax from its $1 billion revenue in NSW last financial year…but Tabcorp has the advantage of 99-year agreements with New South Wales and Victoria to operate exclusively in pubs and clubs.
However, the Australian Wagering Council, a trade body that represents online bookmakers, pointed out that Tabcorp owned the online betting agency Luxbet and received the same deal as all other online bookmakers in that respect.
"If Tabcorp want to level the playing field then what they should do is relinquish their monopoly rights and open up the land-based bricks and mortar retail business to competition," the Council suggested.