The online betting laws of Australia are facing a lot of changes these days. An amendment bill to licence and regulate offshore operators – among other things – has been on the table for two years now. It’s all but guaranteed to pass, but lawmakers are still trying to hammer as many nails into it as they can before making it official.
The latest topic of debate, according to Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, is the concept of integrating a point of consumption (PoC) tax. A national gambling tax of this nature would be applied to domestic and international operators who accept Australian punters.
Morrison said that his political colleagues agreed on the positive impact a PoC tax would entail during a state level meeting held March 24. At this point, it’s only an idea. Lawmakers will have to explore that idea, then write up a draft proposal with all the specifics, to be considered by Parliament.
Morrison said his ultimate goal is to provide a nationally uniform gambling tax; one that is consistent across all states. He insisted that by incorporating an analogous PoC tax into the nation’s online betting laws, Australia would be more capable of protecting its punters and the operators that serve them.
All About The Money?
Not everyone is convinced that the Federal Treasurer’s expressed motives are sincere. Various media outlets have accused Morrison of using problem gambling prevention and other player protections as an excuse to pursue a taxation framework that would generate an excess in federal revenue.
Such an attitude was portrayed by South Australia Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis when he called for the first statewide PoC tax back in 2015. SA’s online betting laws were since updated to include a 15% tax, scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2017. When it does, the state is projecting annual revenue generation of $9.2 million.
The outlook in SA is a lucrative one, but Koutsantonis isn’t content yet. He’d also like to collect tax on online betting activities that originate from punters who bet with operators located within the state.
PoC Tax a Threat to NT?
The Northern Territory, which operates Australia’s highest volume of online sportsbooks as remote gambling operations, could see its revenue fall when the SA PoC tax goes into effect a few months from now. A national gambling tax would only complicate matters, as NT offers competitive tax breaks for operators who launch their business within NT.
Other Australian states are less than appreciative of NT’s approach to the online betting market. They feel they’re losing out on opportunities to generate similar revenue from internet gambling because the majority of operators are flocking to NT.
Leveling Taxes in Online Betting Laws
Morrison’s approach would level the playing field, so to speak. We won’t know exactly how the national gambling tax might work until draft legislation is produced, but the Federal Treasure has made it clear that he’s most keen on the overall tax framework already put forth by South Australia, calling it an ideal reference point moving forward.
The government is currently working on altering the online betting laws in Australia to prohibit international operators from providing online casino and poker games to Aussies, as well as banning in-play betting. It’s uncertain whether the PoC tax bill will be introduced as an amendment to that bill, or postponed for consideration at a later date, following enactment of the impending Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill.