NSW moves to raise taxes on casino poker machines amid push for gambling reform

Government proposal comes after clubs lobby criticised the lower rate imposed on casino operators

Poker machine earnings at New South Wales casinos will be taxed at the same rate as those in clubs and pubs under proposed changes by the state government, amid growing a push for broader gambling reforms.

If in place by next July, the proposed tax-rate changes could inject an extra $364m into the state’s coffers over three years, according to government modelling.

It comes as the premier, Dominic Perrottet, this week insisted he would not be “threatened” by the NSW clubs lobby into backing down from plans to reform poker machine gambling, after the group said it would campaign against MPs it perceived as opposed to the sector.

Perrottet has made clear he wants to see the introduction of universal cashless gambling cards, despite fierce pushback from the sector and some within his own cabinet.

The state’s treasurer, Matt Kean, said the planned tax changes would help to balance a budget that has been hammered by the pandemic and natural disasters.

He said that while casinos were important employers in the state, they also needed to make a contribution to the economy.

“It’s important that casinos pay their fair share of tax,” Kean said.

“These reformed tax rates will replace the existing regime under which casinos pay less tax on poker machines than hotels and clubs.

“These changes will ensure that the casinos continue to make an appropriate contribution to the community and support the delivery of vital government services.”

Similar tax changes were announced in Victoria when the Andrews government handed down the state budget earlier this year. Under the Victorian plan, Crown Casino will be taxed more on its 2,600 poker machines, raising about $30m each year from 2023.

Guardian Australia understands the NSW system will be based on the Vicotrian model, with tiered taxation rates in place.

ClubsNSW, who is at war with the state government over its push to introduce cashless gambling cards, has in recent months spoken out against what it sees as an unfair fax system.

“It is inexplicable why The Star should pay a lower rate of tax than clubs,” its chief executive, Josh Landis, told the Daily Telegraph in November.

Star Entertainment was earlier this year labeled “unsuitable” to hold a licence to operate casinos in NSW according to the Adam Bell SC report published in September.

The report contained a series of damning findings about Star’s operations, following a lengthy inquiry that heard allegations of money laundering, organised crime, fraud and foreign interference at its gaming facilities in NSW.

The report contained 30 recommendations, including that a compulsory gaming card be introduced at the casino.

The government is also yet to respond to a report by the state’s crime commission, which found billions of dollars in “dirty” money was being gambled through pokies in the state.


Tamsin Rose

The GuardianTramp

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