n unprecedented collaboration of the world’s biggest online betting agencies has come out swinging with a media blitz in an attempt to knock out state Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis’ proposed ‘tax whack’ on punters.
Corporate bookmakers have warned South Australian gamblers will be the heaviest taxed punters in the world if the State Government succeeds in introducing a 15 per cent wagering tax.
Cormac Barry, chairman of the Australian Wagering Council and spokesman of the Stop The Punters Tax campaign said there were 200,000 online account holders in SA — close to a quarter of the eligible voting population — who will be “extremely unhappy” if the tax is introduced.
“We think is an ill-thought-out money grab from the Treasurer and don’t think he understands the consequences,” the chief executive of the Irish-owned Sportsbet said warning "either the online operators will exit South Australia or they will have to pass the tax on to punters."
“In either event the result is bad news for SA punters and potentially disastrous for the SA racing industry,” he affirmed
“We’ll be emailing all 200,000 SA online customers to request they let the Premier and Treasurer know about this bad idea.”
Mr Koutsantonis, who announced in June an intention to introduce a “place of consumption” tax of 15 per cent on the net wagering revenue of all betting companies offering services in SA, said it was not a tax on punters but only on the operators.
“The tax doesn’t apply to the bets made, it only applies to net wagering revenue — in other words, the money that is lost to these companies by South Australians,” he said.
“If the harm from gambling is being done in South Australia, these betting companies should be paying tax in this state, not just in whichever jurisdiction their head office and servers happen to be located.
“Scare-campaign tactics won’t work here — this is a fair tax and one we believe will be adopted by other jurisdictions around the country”
The new tax, on horse, harness and greyhound racing, and other sports such as AFL and soccer, from July 1, 2017, is expected to raise $9.2 million in new revenue a year.
It is the first time an Australian jurisdiction will target betting companies based upon where bets are placed, as opposed to where the betting provider is located.
Bookmakers met with the Treasurer last week.
“He gave us a full 15 minutes of his time to tell us he doesn’t care what we think, or about punters or the racing industry and he’s very determined that he’s right,” Mr Barry added.
He told us some of the money raised would be going to a rehabilitation fund for problem gamblers.
“We offered to fund that directly which he rejected.”
Mr Koutsantonis said $500,000 would be made available to the Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund each year, which will be the first time the betting industry has contributed to the Fund.