Australian online betting providers hold a lot of power in the country, and can even influence decisions made by the government. According to ABC News, online sportsbooks in Australia forced the government of the Northern Territory (NT) into making a U-turn on the tax rates it was planning to impose on online wagering providers.
The report states that the NT government was looking to introduce higher taxes on the online betting industry and impose additional licensing requirements. However, as soon as Australian bookies got wind of the taxation plans, at least three of them intervened and swayed the government’s decision.
ABC News got the information after it requested to get access to discussions that took place in 2020 and that would have amended the Racing and Betting Act. The media outlet made the request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
Most of Australia’s 85 Online Bookies Are Licensed in NT
Most Australian sportsbooks have an NT license, meaning they can organize and act collectively. NT benefits from the presence of sportsbooks too, as the industry employs a lot of people in the state.
And, as you might expect, being an important player in the local economy comes with its perks and makes the betting industry a real factor in NT, especially when it comes to crucial matters such as tax rate increases.
ABC News discovered that NT started looking into a possible increase in the existing taxes and fees in 2020 after conducting an industry review in 2018. The increased taxes would have injected more money into the local government’s coffers and boosted the economy.
Back then, government officials also suggested that 20 percent of the money sportsbooks paid to employees should go to people located in NT.
Bookies Threatened They Would Leave NT
However, at least three Australian bookies, whose names were not disclosed in the Freedom of Information request, protested the proposed changes. They said that they would move their offices from NT to a different state, and might even leave Australia altogether.
The NT government was well aware of the power the 85 online sportsbooks operating in the country have, so they backtracked on their decision.
Bookies in Australia bring over A$1 billion in tax revenue to the country and A$10 million to NT. Should they decide to leave, the effects on the Australian economy would be devastating.
So, what did the NT government do with these previously undisclosed plans? It decided to avoid additional scrutiny and didn’t make the 2018 report and subsequent discussions public.
NT Has the Highest Online Gambling Expenditure
The online betting industry in Australia has skyrocketed in value in recent years. Australian bookies were worth around A$225 billion in 2019, but they increased their value by 78 percent in the last two years.
Western Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria have the highest overall gambling productivity, while the Northern Territory has the largest online gambling expenditure.
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