Gambling Reform Measures in Australia

By Ryan White Updated: February 2023

The New South Wales Government (NSW) has made a bold move to help those who need it most – raising the casino tax rate in order to direct more resources towards disadvantaged communities. This influx of additional funding will hopefully create lasting positive change, improving the quality of life and opportunities for many.

Australian Casinos To Pay an Equitable Share Of Taxes

NSW casinos will begin paying higher taxes on table games and poker machine winnings from July next year, in a plan that is expected to raise more than $350 million for the state over three years.

The New South Wales government plans to make casino operators pay more taxes next year in order to compensate for areas hit hardest by the global economic crisis. The changes are being made in order to support the state’s fiscal sustainability in the wake of recent catastrophes including the COVID-19 pandemic, bushfires, and floods.

The proposed tax increase would see the tax rate on casino poker machines go up to as much as 60.67%. This follows the introduction of a 15% point of consumption tax earlier this year.

Changes To Taxation Of The Casino Industry

The proposed changes come as Premier Dominic Perrottet faces pushback from within his own cabinet on plans to reform poker machine gambling. 

The NSW government is looking for at least AUD364 million. This would be 120 million per year. To cover this amount, they are considering levying a tax on gaming machines in all casinos across the state which would be significantly higher than what hotels and bars currently pay for their machines. The state government of New South Wales is proposing changes that would tax poker machine earnings at casinos at the same rate as those in clubs and pubs.

If the changes are implemented by next July, they could generate an extra $364 million for the state over three years.

Extra Funds To Benefit Low Socia-Economic Groups

Treasurer Matt Kean stated that it is important for casinos to “pay their fair share of tax,” and that these reforms will ensure they continue to make an appropriate contribution to the community.

The new poker machine tax rate will bring NSW on par with Victoria after the latter announced similar changes to their casino taxation policies in their Budget this year.

Impact Of Casino Scandals

The fact that both Star Entertainment and Crown Resorts, two major casino operators in NSW, have recently been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for violating state laws by facilitating money laundering.

It was revealed that both Crown and Star Casino’s actions had annulled the tax agreements it negotiated due to its regulatory violations. 

One of the biggest disputes in Australia’s casino industry centres around cashless gaming with many believing it will help reduce gambling addiction rates and money laundering schemes; however, ClubsNSW is lobbying against such changes being made mandatory throughout casinos nationwide.

The Need for Significant Gambling Reform Measures in Australia

Australians like to gamble. Gambling is a cherished tradition that shows the Aussie’s unrelenting spirit. It has been adopted as an integral part of the country’s culture. It is now considered a problem, and there is an outcry in the media to change government policy and address the issue of problem gambling.

No More Advertising Gambling Services

While a few big gambling companies in Australia have defended their advertising policies, they also admitted to targeting underage individuals with their gambling advertisements, in spite of the criticism they received and the current regulations in place in the country. More solutions are needed to protect minors and those at risk from gambling-related harm. At the same time, activists are currently lobbying for more stringent safeguards and responsible gambling practices. These would be rightfully balanced against their legal rights to promote their services.

Australians Spend $332 per Person on Online Wagers

Research from H2 Gambling Capital once again proves Australians’ undying love for casino games. According to the new figures, the number of people from Australia who engage in online gambling is 20 percent higher than in any other country worldwide. Even more, Australia’s online gambling market is ranked third in size. Aussies like to truly get into it when they feel like engaging in their favourite online casino games, spending around $332 per person on online wagering alone.

When compared to players in Sweden who spend $276 per person, Aussies’ interest in captivating games is easy to spot. When engaged in gambling, Australians also tend to lose a lot of money. Data from the Australian Institute of Health & Wealth suggests that Aussies lost around $25 billion on all legal forms of gambling between 2018 and 2019. The number stood for the largest per capita losses at a global level. During the same period, estimates spoke of around 35% of all adults of at least 18 years of age, or the equivalent of 6.5 million spent money on gambling during a “typical month”.

Activists like Tim Costello believe that, besides Australians’ pure love for gambling, another factor leading to the important gambling losses registered in the country is the lack of sufficient regulations. Costello and others are, therefore, asking for more serious reform in the industry with better policies meant to protect all players.

The National Framework in Australia

The Australian Government, along with the state and territory governments, has introduced a series of consumer protections for online gamblers. Under the title of the “National Framework,” the ten adopted measures offer more powerful consumer protections for Australians who like to wager online. The measures are used to empower individuals to reduce online gambling harm. Players benefit from tools that are easy to use. They are offered crucial information on how to access support. This means controlled wagering and even including voluntary opt-out solutions. BetStop is the country’s self-exclusion register. There is also a shorter customer verification period of only three days, down from 14 days. For underage gamblers and self-excluded players, faster age and identity verification is necessary to reduce gambling harm.