New prime-time television ads aimed at securing a fairer deal for pubs and clubs depict Australia’s largest online betting companies sending most of their local profits overseas.
The advertising campaign by the Aussie Fair Play Coalition – jointly formed by the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and Tabcorp features depictions of forklifts carting stacks of cash into shipping containers branded with the names of online bookmakers such as Sportsbet, Ladbrokes and Bet365.
‘Where are these heading?’ a character in the ad asks as he gestures at the money-laden containers readied for shipping offshore.
‘Isle of Man, Dublin… maybe Malta,’ a second voice responds.
‘This money should be going back into Australian industries and Australian communities,’ a voiceover intones at the end of the ad.
The new prime-time advertising campaign by the Aussie Fair Play Coalition aims to secure a fairer fees and taxes deal for pubs and clubs carrying betting facilities.
The line refers to Tabcorp’s main argument that its large online rivals are all foreign-owned, many registered in low-tax jurisdictions such as those quoted in the ad.
The campaign will run widely in prime-time slots on channels 7, 9 and 10, as well as radio, print and digital news.
The message is based around information filed with ASIC showing foreign-owned bookmakers shipped more than $500 million in profits offshore last year while paying lower gambling taxes and fees to the racing industry than Tabcorp.
The ads seek to level the playing field between pubs and clubs carrying TAB betting and the online bookmakers by having all of them pay the same state wagering fees and taxes.
The Fair Play Coalition has scored an initial victory with the Palaszczuk government in Queensland agreeing to unwind a 2014 agreement with Tabcorp that had it paying more than online bookmakers. It now hopes other states will follow suit.
Queensland will raise the point of consumption tax – a tax that affects all those offering gambling services in a state in equal measure – from 15 per cent to 20 per cent in December 2022.
The AHA and Tabcorp argue that racing coverage in Australia will become unsustainable because while they mostly pay for it to be broadcast in Australian pubs and clubs, more and more of the wagering on the events goes to the online agencies.
Meanwhile, a favourable tax regime for the online outfits has seen their combined market share overtake that of TAB.
In Australia many of the online betting companies are registered in the Northern Territory, where the territory government charges a modest $1million per annual licensing fee, which is capped.
By comparison, the TAB pays licence fees in each state it operates.
‘Because of the higher tax rates that TAB pay they’re simply not able to compete with the more profitable, foreign-owned companies, who get a more beneficial tax rate,’ AHA CEO Stephen Ferguson told Daily Mail Australia last year.
‘It makes it far easier for them to compete for customers, and they’re out after our customers and we don’t like that. It’s not a level playing field.’
Mr Ferguson compares the issues raised by the new campaign to big tech companies like Google and Facebook trying to minimise their tax in Australia.
‘All our venues are Australian-owned, and they’re largely foreign owned,’ he said.
We pay more tax to the racing industry, we support the racing industry, we pay most of the broadcast revenue to support the racing industry.
‘The dividends from our businesses remain in Australia, and unfortunately with our foreign competitors, the bulk of their profits go overseas.’
‘Online betting has changed the market substantially since TAB licences were issued,’ said Tabcorp chief executive Adam Rytenskild.
‘TAB is paying double the fees of foreign-owned operators, which was OK in a monopoly environment but not now.
‘The market share of online operators has increased and they should be contributing the same level of funding to ensure the sustainability of the racing industry.’
The largest of the online bookmakers in Australia is Sportsbet which, despite its blokey, Ocker ads, is owned by Dublin-based Flutter, a $50billion betting giant listed on the London stock exchange that also owns Betfair, PokerStars, FanDuel and Paddy Power.
Ladbrokes, Neds and Betstar are owned by Entain, a company based in the Isle of Man.
Responsible Wagering Australia, the umbrella body representing the interests of Sportsbet, Ladbrokes, Neds, Bet365, PointsBet and others, described Tabcorp as ‘rank hypocrites’ in a statement provided to Daily Mail Australia
‘Tabcorp doesn’t want a level playing field, it wants an empty playing field, CEO Justin Madden said
‘If they’re serious about fairness, then governments … should end Tabcorp’s wagering monopolies today and let all the players compete with equal access to all markets.
‘Equal taxation does not create a level playing field. The end of Tabcorp’s retail, tote and on course monopoly does. Tabcorp is terrified of competition and wants “corporate welfare” to stay in the game.’