Published by The Border Watch
A CONTENTIOUS betting operations tax is impacting the future of South Australia’s regional racing industry according to Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell.
The Point of Consumption (POC) tax, introduced in 2017, was designed to generate revenue from online gambling, with the tax payable in the state where the bet was placed.
South Australia’s 15pc rate is among the equal highest in Australia, but the independent MP said unlike other states, the revenue is not being reinvested back into the industry.
In a speech to State Parliament last week, Mr Bell outlined the implications on the state’s racing industry.
“The POC tax means there is now far less incentive for bookmakers to promote South Australian races and less money bet on events means less revenue and less prize money for those races,” he said.
“In racing, prize money pays wages, so less prize money means job cuts.
“The fact leading trainers are packing up and moving operations interstate should be a real wake-up call to the State Government.”
Last year, Thoroughbred Racing SA was forced to cut $2.25m in budgeted spending, affecting infrastructure grants and prize money at clubs across the state.
“This tax is already having major implications for clubs in Naracoorte and Penola, which were forced to put major irrigation projects on hold,” Mr Bell said.
“Mount Gambier Racing Club general manager Brett Watson has described the current situation to me as ‘unsustainable’ and that’s a real worry.”
The State Government generates around $16m annually from the tax.
Although the tax was introduced by Labor in 2017, Mr Bell said the current Liberal State Government could be “part of the solution”.
“If the State Government lowered the tax rate to 10pc, the same as New South Wales and Victoria, it would bring South Australia on a level playing field,” he said.
“However, they can also go further and redirect a percentage of this tax back into the industry.
“In Western Australia, 30pc of their POC tax is invested back into the industry, in Victoria, nearly 19pc goes back in.
“This is money generated by the racing industry.
“It deserves to be invested back into the racing industry.”
Mr Bell said this month’s Gold Cup Carnival had highlighted the importance of regional racing to local communities.
“The recent Gold Cup carnival is a great example of country racing at its best,” he said.
“The flow on effect from the Gold Cup carnival alone supports trainers, jockeys, local hoteliers and caterers, hospitality staff, transport, accommodations and fashion businesses, among others.
“Racing is more than just a sport. “It is an industry which supports the full-time employment of more than 3600 people and generates $400m every year in economic benefits for South Australia.
“This is an issue which has major implications for the future of our regional racing clubs.”