Star Casino whales told to pay; taxman targets sports bet winnings; Tabcorp gaffe


star-casino-whales-australia-sports-bettor-taxAustralia’s Supreme Court has ruled that five high-rolling Asian ‘whales’ must repay the $7m tab they collectively rung up at Sydney’s Star Casino. The Star went to court in order to compel the whales to make good following the March 2012 demise of junket operator SilkStar Global Marketing Ltd. A separate group of five whales SilkStar brought to the Star owe an additional $16m, but their case has yet to come to court. Trouble is, the court’s ruling is essentially unenforceable provided the whales don’t beach themselves on Australia’s shores, which the Star itself acknowledged last month when it revealed the shortfall. The Daily Telegraph noted that the snafu recalls the 2009 incident in which a Hong Kong whale cashed an $11.5m check at the Star, only to turn around, cash his chips out and leave the country, never to return. Three days later, the check (surprise) bounced.

David Walsh, the benefactor behind Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art, has spoken out on his legal tiff with Australian tax authorities. Walsh, along with sports/race-betting über-whale Zeljko Ranogajec, belonged to a shadowy outfit known as the Punters Club that reportedly contributed $1b annually to TAB turnover. In late 2011, the Australian Tax Office informed Club members their past tax filings were being recalculated to include their betting earnings as professional income. The potential penalty was enough for Ranogajec to decamp to the Isle of Man, but Walsh is a little more embedded in his native land. This week, Walsh revealed the taxman is asking him for $37.7m in back taxes plus interest. Walsh says Australian law has never treated winnings as taxable, and if the tax office wants to change the law, Walsh has no problem anteing up going forward, but he intends to fight any attempt at a retroactive tax. Tax lawyers believe the case could set a precedent, in that a tax on winnings could result in punters being allowed to write off losses.

While the tax office is exposing mega whales, Aussie gambling mainstay Tabcorp is apologizing after accidentally exposing the names of countless rank and file customers via an email promotion. The Herald Sun reports that the bulk email come-on, which offered a $20 free bet for participating in a research test, also contained the names of every other person to whom it was sent. A TAB Sportsbet spokesperson acknowledged the cockup and apologized “for any inconvenience caused.” The Australian Privacy Foundation said it was “just extraordinary that companies don’t learn these things.”