15 May

Victoria blends ‘Sneaky’ Online Betting Tax into Budget

Victoria Australia Online Betting POC TaxAll across Australia, states and territories have agreed to wait for the federal government to impose guidelines for an online betting tax. In what some are calling a “sneaky” move, Victoria’s budget is already calling for – and banking on – a 15% point of consumption (POC) tax.

According to a report in the Herald Sun on Thursday, the Andrews government has already infused the POC tax into its annual budget. The state is banking on a $150 million boost from the online betting tax, and is using it to boast surplus in its revenue, despite the fact that the Treasury cannot actually collect any of that money.

Online Betting Tax – Not ‘In the Bank’ Yet

Victoria previously entered into a commitment with Treasurers not to go ahead with a “punters tax”. The state, like many others, agreed to wait for the federal government to examine the framework of a national online betting regulation and taxation plan.

When Treasurers from Australia’s state, territorial and federal governments last met, they concurred on a plan in which each would develop a model for a nationally uniform POC tax. They would each determine a reasonable rate and how it would work, then report back at a future meeting.

Apparently, Victoria’s budget planners never got the memo. Reports indicate that the state’s new budget papers have called for the development of a “point of consumption tax”, to be applied to bookmakers that accept online wagers from punters physically located in Victoria.

Shadow Treasurer Michael O’Brien was displeased as ever. It’s no secret he’s been disenchanted with many of the Andrews government’s actions thus far. He called this latest move a “sneaky, new tax”, and is obviously taking count, naming this as the 11th such move by the Andrews government already.

O’Brien said, “Labor has already banked the revenue for future budgets.”

When contacted by the media to ask if that were true, a spokesperson for Treasurer Tim Pallas said contingencies for revenue and spending have been accounted for in the forward estimate, but that they are “not detailed”.

The Herald Sun reported, “No money has been booked into this year’s budget.”

SA Online Betting Tax Begins in July

In the meantime, things are already moving forward in South Australia, where leaders have ignored the call for national consistency prior to enforcement of an online betting POC tax. The SA government previously enacted a 15% rate, scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2017.

All eyes will turned in their direction when the time comes, as the general consensus is that a nationally unified framework should be examined before individual states and territories take matters int their own hands. If SA’s model is successful, however, it could create a ready-made framework for the rest of Australia to follow.

Repetitive Call for POCT Uniformity

“We need a nationally consistent approach around harm minimisation, and need to make sure that all gaming operators are doing their bit regarding responsible gambling obligations,” said Treasurer Pallas.

Responsible Wagering Australia, a group representing the interests of Australia’s online betting industry, also supports national consistency in taxation. The RWA has lobbied against individual governments incorporating their own POC tax.

Claire Wheaton, a spokeswoman for the RWA, said the group is anxiously awaiting its chance to work in tandem with each government to “implement a consistent national approach” to an online betting POC tax.