Australia’s online sports betting operators are teaming up in a bid to quash South Australia’s new point-of-consumption tax.
The Australian Wagering Council (AWC), whose members include Bet365, Betfair, Sportsbet and Unibet, have launched a Stop the Punters Tax campaign to protest South Australia’s plan to impose a 15% tax on online betting revenue derived from state residents.
The tax, which applies to online sports and racing wagering revenue, is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2017. The tax is the first of its type in Australia, and more states are likely to follow SA’s lead if its projections of $9.2m in annual revenue for the state prove accurate.
The AWC intends to use email, social media channels and full-page newspaper ads to get the word out to an estimated 200k SA bettors, whom the AWC hopes will relay their concerns to SA treasurer Tom Koutsantonis.
Koutsantonis has stated that $500k of the tax proceeds would go toward the state’s Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund. Sportsbet CEO and AWC chairman Cormac Barry said the AWC offered to cover that donation directly but Koutsantonis rejected this plan.
Barry warned that the tax could be “potentially disastrous” for SA racing and sports funding if AWC operators decide that the new regime makes doing business in SA unprofitable. Barry said operators have only two options: exit the SA market entirely or pass on the extra costs to “extremely unhappy” punters.
Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner has taken the AWC’s side, arguing that punters will ditch SA-approved operators to seek out better priced offerings from internationally licensed betting sites “and this cannot be in the best interests of consumers.”
Barry told Australian media that conversations with the “quite dismissive” Koutsantonis had demonstrated that the treasurer “doesn’t care what [bookies] think or about punters or the racing industry and he’s very determined that he’s right.”
Koutsantonis has pushed back against these claims, noting that punters aren’t being asked to pay anything extra to place a wager, while warning that “scare campaigns won’t work here.”