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Mark Parton: Return revenue to racing

Canberra Liberals MLA Mark Parton, Shadow Minister for Gaming and Racing, will put forward a motion in the Legislative Assembly today calling on the ACT Labor-Greens government to return a reasonable portion of the Point of Consumption tax (POCT) revenue to the racing codes .

Mr Parton said the ACT is only jurisdiction in Australia where the government does not return a portion of the POCT to the racing industry.

A Betting Operations Tax of 15 per cent was introduced in the ACT in 2019. On 1 July, this was raised to 20 per cent.

Although most Australian online sports betting companies and bookmakers are based in the Northern Territory, the tax applies to bets made from within the ACT, payable by the operator, to the ACT Government.

The increase is expected to generate more than $20 million a year, Mr Parton estimates.

“With the increase in the POCT, the Labor-Greens government becomes the highest taxing jurisdiction in Australia, while at the same time returning the least of those profits back to the codes,” Mr Parton said.

The Queensland Labor government and Tasmania return 80 per cent of POCT to racing; all other states and territories return varying amounts – except the ACT, Mr Parton noted.

The ACT Government collected $69 million in total gambling taxes in 2020-21, and is forecast to collect more than $77 million in 2024-25, he stated.

The Canberra Racing Club also contributes $55 million per year to the ACT economy, and supports more than 400 full-time jobs in the ACT.

This week’s Budget will provide the racing industry with a $41 million subsidy; the ACT Greens have said they will vote against that measure.

Mr Parton said recent comments from those within the Labor-Greens coalition that racing should not receive $40 million from the government over the next five years as part of the MOU agreement failed to outline how much the government is collecting in tax from racing and were disingenuous .

“The biggest bookmaker in town is the Labor-Greens Government,” Mr Parton said. “They are the ones who are profiting from gambling and racing in this city more than anyone, but at the same time are failing to support the industry.

“By returning a portion of this tax back to our racing clubs, we can give them the certainty of a long-term revenue stream, but it is clear the Greens want to ban horse racing and will do everything they can to achieve this.”

Labor gambling expert explains 5 per cent increase

Labor MLA Dr Marisa Paterson, former Director of the ANU’s Center for Gambling Research and expert on reducing harm from gambling, supported the further 5 per cent increase on the Betting Operations Tax.

“COVID lockdowns saw online gambling companies’ profits skyrocket, and most of those billions in profit goes straight overseas,” she said. “These companies make no contribution to our local community.

“Research suggests that aside from those that play casino table games, those people that bet on sports and special events are most ‘at-risk’ of gambling harm in the ACT. 80 per cent of those who engage in sports betting are male, and 42 per cent are aged between 18-29. There are very easily identifiable sectors of the community that need to be targeted to reduce the harm from online gambling.

“I think the companies responsible for this harm should be held accountable.”

In June, Dr Paterson introduced a private motion calling for a review of online gambling, its marketing, and its impact on our community. The motion also called on the ACT Government to investigate ACT revenue sources that can be used for harm minimization activities for the ACT community that target online gambling.

“An increase to the Betting Operations Tax is an excellent first step, and I look forward to working with the ACT government to ensure that online gambling harm amelioration activities will form part of the focus for the increased revenue,” Dr Paterson said.

“Online/sports gambling is largely something that is regulated at the federal government level – historically, this has created a divide between responsibilities. However, I think at the ACT Government level, we can no longer view the harm caused by online gambling as something outside of our jurisdiction. It’s not, it’s happening right here in our community, and we need to start being proactive and innovative in addressing the harm,” Dr Paterson said.

Debate over Dr Paterson’s bill to protect online gamblers was deferred after the Canberra Liberals accused Labor of profiting to the tune of more than $12.5 million from gambling.

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