Lobby to Reduce Online Gambling Tax in Australia

Shihaam Isaacs

Last updated: June 05, 2018

Online gambling fans in the state of Victoria in Australia have celebrated the long-awaited news of the successful lobby to reduce online gambling taxes in that state. The successful lobbying campaign was led by Stephen Conroy, a former member of the Australian parliament and lobbyist for the allied bookies in Australia. According to several reliable sources, the reduction in online gambling tax for Victoria amounts to half of what other Australian states are currently paying for various online gambling activities.

Who is Likely to Benefit the Most?

While the tax reduction is across the board, affecting all online gambling platforms simultaneously, it is believed at this stage that the racing industries in Victoria were more likely to benefit the most from the tax reduction, according to Tim Pallas, state secretary for Victoria. However, Pallas also went on to say that the reduced tax on all online gambling activities would more than likely only come into effect at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. Much of the gambling tax is already earmarked for a number of hospital funds and various state charities.

Lobby not without Controversy

Conroy, along with his group of lobbyists had aimed for a tax break in revenue that would comfortably fall below the 15% mark. The argument for this relates to the current situation, whereby most companies in the state could not realistically afford to pay revenue taxes of 15% or higher. However, the proposal has not been without controversy, as some observers have criticised the percentage, stating that it should have been higher and more in line with other states such as South Australia, where the proposed mid-2017 tax percentage had been set at 15%. Western Australia is also heading for the same 15% mark, so the decisions made by Victoria has been seen by many as an attempt to undercut decisions by other states.

Conroy, who is head of Responsible Wagering Australia or RWA, also came under considerable fire from Alliance for Gambling Reform head, Tim Costello. Among Costello’s main criticisms, Conway and the RWA had unduly pressured the state into delaying the move as well as pushing for a reduction in point of consumption tax to below the 15% mark.

Lobbying Against the Tax

The lobbying efforts led by Conroy began in earnest last year after a group of online gambling sites organised the petition in favour of a reduction in tax below the 15% mark. The so-called point of consumption tax requires that the state receive an equal portion of revenue generated from online gambler losses in the state.

Thanks to Conway’s extensive experience, not only in gambling, as director of the RWA, but also his twenty plus years spent in the Australian parliamentary system (including as minister for digital economy), has ensured a favourable outcome for all online gamblers in the state of Victoria, at least when 2018 commences. However, the fight continues, as Conroy wants to see the 15% point of consumption tax completely abolished, arguing that the industry pays more than enough in revenues through the Goods and Services Tax.