David Attenborough, CEO of TABCORP, has openly slammed online-only bookmakers in Australia over the relatively low rates of tax they pay, the minimal contributions they return to the racing industry, and their reliance on extending credit to their customers.
Tabcorp is the major operator of retail TABs in New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria in Australia, and in these locations, Attenborough states, Tabcorp took in AUS$9bn in bets in 2013 from which they returned AUS$657m back to the racing industry. Comparatively, in the same time frame online-only bookmakers returned just two percent on the AUS$5bn they received; a whole five percent less than Tabcorp.
On the matter of taxes Tabcorp paid AUS$225 million in 2012-13 to NSW and Victoria. Meanwhile Attenborough pointed out: “In the Northern Territory, where bookmakers each have a cap of $250,000 in wagering tax, the territory only collected $2.5 million”. He also expanded on his grievances, related to extending credit to customers, which is allowed for bookmakers licensed in the Northern Territory but ‘is prohibited or severely restricted for state-based operators’. Slamming what he called the ‘market distortions’ he went on to say that these are threatening racing’s proven funding model in Australia.
Whilst it is believed that Racing Victoria is seriously considering various proposals aimed at increasing the fees paid by bookmakers, Attenborough’s pleas fell on deaf ears at the Australian Wagering Council. Chief executive Chris Downy dismissed Attenborough’s protestations on two main grounds.
Firstly, Downy said: “Tabcorp has a 44 percent market share in Australia, largely on the back of the monopolies it enjoys for retail wagering in Victoria and NSW.” He put their larger tax contribution down to one of the understandable consequences of being the monopoly retail operator in these states. In 2012-13 retail outlets still represented around $6.8bn in bets for Tabcorp despite their decline.
Furthermore the fact that Luxbet, Tabcorp’s online venture, also took advantage of the Northern Territory’s regulatory regime with an annual turnover of $700m showed quite some hypocrisy in Attenborough’s outrage, acording to Downy.