10/16/09 – The news earlier this week that the Australian state of Tasmania is to replace taxes for corporate bookmakers with a flat fee of $256 000 a year appears to have triggered a competitive policy decision from the Northern Territory government.
The Northern Territory News reports that the government is slashing taxes for online bookmakers in a bid to hold off competition from other Australian states.
The report specifically names Tasmania, claiming it is trying to become a world hub for internet gambling by capping state taxes for bookies, and that it hopes to lure some of the NT-based companies to Hobart.
The reduction in bookie taxes is likely to cost the state government several millions of dollars; there are 11 online bookies in the NT – Betchoice, Betezy, Betstar, Centrebet, Centreracing, International All Sports, Luxbet, NT TAB, Overtheodds, Sportingbet and Sportsbet – employing some 250 people and contributing A$10.5 million to the NT economy, the newspaper reports.
Sportsbet owner Matthew Tripp told Northern Territory News that he would keep his operation in Darwin NT despite being courted by Tasmania. He said his company would pay about $11 million in taxes if it operated from his home state of Victoria.
"We're definitely staying in Darwin," he said. "A lot of our team comes from there."
Tripp added that the NT government had been "very welcoming".
"They've been very hospitable, as opposed to authorities in some of the southern states. The NT Government earns a good dollar out of us.
"But they're entitled to because they've shown they are in favour of economic growth."
NT Treasurer Delia Lawrie confirmed that tax on profits would be capped at $250 000.
"The potential of bookmakers leaving the Territory is a major concern for the Henderson Government as it would cost valuable jobs, support to the local racing industry and revenue," she said.
"That's why, after careful consideration and in order to preserve an industry presence in the Territory, the Government is proposing to reform the bookmakers' turnover tax regime so that it remains competitive with other states.
"While these measures will reduce tax revenue, on balance, inaction would have seen many corporate bookmakers leaving the Territory, costing jobs and would have severely impacted the local racing industry."
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