Queensland online betting tax rise leaves industry divided

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
Racing Queensland has announced a new five percent levy on online bookmaking, effectively increasing the point of consumption tax (POCT) rate to 20%.

This will harmonise the tax rates of online operators doing business within the province with totalizator operator Tabcorp, with opinion split within the two.

Tabcorp, the Australian totalisator board, has long argued that the differing tax rates represents an unfair competitive advantage for the online sector.

In addition to the increase, there is also plans to broaden the betting tax to include free and bonus bets as well as increasing the proportion of betting tax revenue that goes directly to the racing industry from 35% to 80%.

Adam Rytenskild, Tabcorp chief executive officer, said: “On a relative basis, TAB currently pays double the fees to the local racing industries compared to other wagering operators.”

“Going forward we will all pay the same in Queensland. I commend the Queensland government for delivering fair and much-needed reforms that bring the wagering market into line with the modern economy.”  

However, the online betting sector does not share the optimism of the TAB.

Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), the online industry trade body, said in a statement that it was “disappointed” with the move, and that the increase was “introduced without consultation for the online wagering industry.”

“Such significant tax changes unfairly entrench the monopoly enjoyed by established and land-based wagering service providers at the expense of the new and emerging online industry. It will lead to serious impacts on the Queensland racing sector and jobs, whilst disproportionally affecting punters who choose online options.”

In addition to the announcement, Racing Queensland and TAB have come to a settlement ending the legal battle the two have been engaged in since 2019. The dispute was concerning the calculation of fees paid by TAB since the introduction of the POCT in 2018.

Cameron Dick, Queensland treasurer and minister for trade and investment, argued that the move will be a boost for Queensland’s historic racing sector: “There are 125 racing clubs across Queensland. For 85 of those clubs, a race meeting is the biggest or second biggest event in their community each year.”

“Our government recognises how important those gatherings are to the social fabric of Queensland, and today’s announcement will help them thrive into the future.”

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