NT government looking to raise low gambling tax rates

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
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The Northern Territory is a sports wagering tax haven according to anti-gambling advocates and the NT government are looking to increase their revenue from facilitating such activity within the territory.

Betting companies are able to make millions while paying little tax.

Tim Costello, spokesman for Alliance of Gambling Reform told the ABC that “the Northern Territory has become the Bermuda tax haven for foreign betting companies.”

“They are the wild wild west because all of the foreign betting companies, sports betting companies are registered there. They gave away licenses for virtually nothing for targeting our kids with odds and they didn’t even write into the licenses responsible gambling requirements.”

“I think the Northern Territory should get out of this alltogether and hand the licenses over to the Commonwealth Government because this wild west frontier of the Northern Territory has really wreaked a plague for the rest of Australia.” he said.

Wagering giants Sportsbet, Ladbrokes and BetEasy are all licensed in the Northern Territory. Since 2008, neither of these organisations have paid over $600 thousand of tax a year in tax.

The peak body is responsible for these industry is Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA). Point of Consumption tax applies in nearly all states, with Tasmania set to implement theirs on 1 January 2020. The only location it does not apply is in the Northern Territory.

RWA was established in November 2016 as the independent peak body which represents the Australian online wagering industry. The RWA and its members seek to ensure that Australia has the best conducted, socially responsible, wagering industry in the world.

A spokesperson for the RWA said in a statement to the ABC “RWA members make a significant contribution to the territory employing around 500 Territorians. As a major part of the territory’s economy, we are appreciative of the NT government’s consultative approach to this ongoing review.”

Increase to take into account the contribution of the industry

The NT government said that the increase in tax on wagering companies would take into account the contribution the industry makes.

“Any increase in own sourced revenue from bookmakers will take into account, the industry’s capacity to pay additional territory taxes without affecting investment in the territory” a NT government spokesperson told the ABC.

However, Tim Costello is not satisfied with the way the NT government has handled their management of wagering organisations conducting their operations within the territory.

“Given they have created this deplorable mess, the Territory should either willingly hand them over or Scott Morrison should use Commonwealth powers to take those licenses” Mr. Costello said.

The NT government does not have any intentions of following the recommendations provided by Mr. Costello.

“The NT government sees no reason to hand the gambling licenses to the Federal Government. The territory based industry creates hundreds of jobs for territorians. We work closely with the independent regulator to make sure we have an agile regulatory framework” a spokesperson for the NT government said.

There are 21 organisations that are registered in the Northern Territory for wagering purposes. These entities constitute almost the entire portion of companies who conduct sports betting operations within the country.

Betfair, bet365, Draft Kings, Lottoland and Unibet are other major players who are licensed in the Northern Territory to conduct their business.

In having a low taxing surrounding, the Northern Territory essentially provides a point of differentiation from the other states and territories within Australia, which can generate revenue for itself.

Given the influx of wagering organisations over the past decade, any rise in taxes by the NT government should likely result in a significant rise in revenue for the Territory.

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