What’s the problem with Tasmania’s new gambling laws?
When the government of Tasmania decided to revamp its gambling laws it did so, presumably, with the best of intentions. After all, every cent that flows through the regulated gambling industry is taxable and a chunk of it eventually flows into state coffers. But operators in Tasmania, along with plenty of other folks, are calling foul on Tasmania’s recent ideas for gambling law reforms.
The government of Tasmania has been toying with gambling reform since 2016, but efforts to turn those dreams into reality have really picked up steam in recent months. At the heart of the reform is a consumption tax of 16 percent that’s set to be imposed on operators. That’s about twice as high as the Australian average and will definitely impact the bottom lines of any Tasmanian-facing operators.
Then there’s the issue of breaking up the Tasmanian gambling monopoly, which is being held by the Federal Group until the year 2023. Under the new plan, only two licenses would be available and the price for those licenses is expected to hit somewhere north of $173 million. Also, one of the monopoly-breaking licenses has already been promised a wealthy Tasmanian named David Walsh. Awarding no-bid contracts to local dignitaries is a novel way to bust up a monopoly, but that’s what’s happening.
The whole process, or lack thereof, has come under heavy criticism from a number of sources, including the head of Monash University’s Gambling and Social Determinants Unit, Dr. Charles Livingstone who said, “This is one of the blights of Tasmanian gambling policy: the tendency to do deals behind closed doors. Given the capacity for corruption and things to go wrong — money laundering and everything else — these things need to be as transparent as possible. If (David Walsh has) a good business plan and he can persuade whoever is reviewing tenders that this is the best way forward, then good on him and he’ll get it. But if he can’t, then whoever is able to … should get it.”
Walsh will likely get the license but if anyone wants to try to snag that other license, the new laws go into effect in 2023, so you’d better get cracking.