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Australia's online bookies score tax victory in Victoria

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Australia-facing online betting firms have found refuge in Victoria after most of the states in the land down under have agreed to impose a punitive 15 percent point-of-consumption tax.

The Guardian reported that Victoria, one of Australia’s two biggest betting states, has imposed softer betting tax for online bookies to the delight of many digital bookmakers.

Victoria State Treasurer Tim Pallas announced on Monday that online bookies in the state will have to pay an 8 percent point-of-consumption tax, lower than the 15 percent point-of-consumption tax of the states of South and Western Australia.

Like in Western Australia, Victoria’s point-of-consumption tax will take effect in January, according to the report. The new tax policy is also dependent on legislation passing the parliament. Pallas said Victoria expects to collect an estimated AUD30 million (US$22.65 million) a year from the new tax regime.

“We’re making sure online betting companies pay their full share of tax in Victoria,” Pallas said, noting that the government has conducted several consultations with the industry and other stakeholders about the issue before coming out with the new tax.

Anti-gambling groups have been pressing the government to impose a 15 percent tax on online betting firms, with the funds going to hospitals and social welfare.

Online bookies, on the other hand, are already flinching with the idea of being slapped with a 15 percent tax rate. They claimed that jobs will be put at risk if the tax rate will be that high since most online betting firms aren’t earning enough.

Meanwhile, the newly-merged online gambling operator Tabcorp wanted a national rate for online gambling firms.

The Victorian racing industry officials, for their part, have expressed concern that these online gambling firms will either pull out from the state, together with millions of dollars of investments, or punish the players with worse the odds if the government imposes a higher point-of-consumption tax rate.

“We don’t want to do any harm to that industry,” Pallas pointed out, as he defended their decision to move forward with the 8 percent tax rate.

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