Tue, Sep 12, 7:49am by Staff Writer
Western Australia will become the second state to implement a point of consumption tax for online betting operations, according to a statement issued September 7 by Premier Mark McGowan and his Labor government.
Under the new tax scheme, which is set to begin on January 1 of 2019, companies offering online wagering services will pay 15 percent on net wagering revenue generated from punters placing bets inside the state.
The point of consumption tax model will replace the current system, wherein online bet shops see their revenue taxed based on the “point of supply” – or the jurisdiction where the company is licensed.
As the McGowan government’s statement makes clear, Western Australia’s plan will closely follow the established system put in place by South Australia – which became the first state to authorize a point of consumption tax for online betting in July of this year.
State Treasurer Ben Wyatt outlined the planning stage which will take place between now and implementation:
“Treasury will begin consultation with stakeholders on the implementation of a point of consumption wagering tax that is broadly consistent with the South Australian model.
This reform is about levelling the playing field of wagering taxation such that all wagering operators pay the same level of tax on bets placed by Western Australian punters, irrespective of the jurisdiction in which the operators hold their licence.”
Two months before South Australia moved to approve point of consumption taxation, the Council on Federal Financial Relations agreed to consider a Commonwealth-wide transition to a similar system.
The McGowan government used its statement to assure Western Australians that its own point of consumption tax would comply with federal standards, while positioning Northern Australia’s newfound status as an online betting tax haven:
“The Commonwealth and State Treasurers agreed to consider a common national approach for POC wagering taxes.
Details of Western Australia’s POC wagering tax will be informed by work coordinated by the Council on Federal Financial Relations to consider a nationally consistent POC wagering tax regime.”
The statement also positioned the Northern Territory’s newfound status as a tax haven for online wagering sites as a prime factor motivating the government’s decision:
“The growth over the last decade in online wagering, predominately through operators based in the Northern Territory, has reduced the effectiveness of the existing State-based taxation regime and put at risk the ability of the TAB to fund the racing industry.”
Industry lobby group Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) – which represents bet shops like Sportsbet.com.au, CrownBet, Bet365, and Unibet – immediately voiced its objection to the tax hike.
In a statement, RWA executive director Stephen Conroy insinuated that any additional taxes levied on operators would simply be passed along to punters:
“The WA Government’s decision needlessly puts at risk the potential of achieving nationally harmonised approaches to taxation and consumer protection in the wagering industry.
The resulting downturn in wagering in the state will result in lower returns to the state’s racing industry and an increased reliance on government funding.”
Treasurer Wyatt used the government’s statement to preemptively counter that claim:
“This is not about slugging punters with a new tax – rather, it’s about reforming the system by moving away from the ‘place of supply’ to a ‘point of consumption’ tax model.”
Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia used his official comments to pledge that local racing operators would not be unduly impacted by the new tax rate:
“This reform will benefit the local racing industry by levelling the tax playing field for the WATAB relative to the online corporate bookmakers.
Critically, the McGowan Government will ensure the local racing industry is no worse off relative to the current tax regime.
The sustainability and strong future of our racing codes in Western Australia remains our focus with these reforms.”
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