Following massive concerted lobbying efforts by corporate bookmakers led by the executive director of Responsible Wagering Australia, Victoria has made a decision to introduce its own tax on digital betting that is nearly half the rate of other states. Last year, South Australia levied a 15 percent consumption tax on online gambling that has been rumored to be also appealing to Queensland and Western Australia.
The Australian state of Victoria, however, chose to take a different path that was made public on Monday when state officials announced that it was planning to implement an 8 percent tax rate for online betting entities. This directive, according to Victoria’s state Cabinet Minister in charge of finance, will be implemented as from January 1st next year.
After years of tax evasion, targeted online gambling operators will be required to pay the rates which, as indicated in the announcement, will only apply to the bets that are placed in the state of Victoria. As such, said online gambling operators will be required to effectively put in place measures that are geared towards determining the locations of their customers.
Tim Pallas, the states finance Cabinet Minister, the move to introduce the move to lower the tax rate is long overdue and it will be implemented primarily to ensure that Victorians get their fair share of the highly lucrative multibillion-dollar online gambling industry. In addition to this, the state government projects revenues of up to a whopping AUS $30 million every year.
The Mixed Reactions
Even though the Conroy-led Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) expressed that they were a bit disappointed by the announcement made by the state of Victoria, they did acknowledge what they termed as “consultative approach” by the government – the RWA is the body mandated to ensure that responsible betting practices are adhered to in Australia.
“The online wagering industry already pays a significant amount of consumption tax through the GST, as well as corporate income tax to the federal government,” Stephen Conroy said. “An 8% tax does not adequately account for these significant contributions and will result in Victoria having one of the highest effective wagering tax rates in the world.”
The organization argued that by setting the Point of Commission tax rates at half of what is offered by other states such as South Australia, Victoria will undermine the betting companies that are currently operating in other states where the tax rate is set at 15 percent.
Conroy further pointed out that online gamblers and online betting operators are currently being charged significant amounts through Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the federal government tax scheme. His concern is that the consequence would be the likely occurrence of a double taxation which will, in turn, make Victoria’s tax burden is actually higher than what it seems.
Nevertheless, Victoria’s tax course is intact and has already been finalized so as to guarantee the legislation is rolled out in full by January 2019.