The Victoria Government Is Going To Funnel A Sneaky $50 Million Into The Horse Racing Industry

A new bill will inject millions into the horse and greyhound racing industries.

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Victoria’s state government just passed a bill that will inject an extra $50 million into horse and greyhound racing and, naturally, people are asking why the hell they would do that?

The new bill is officially called the Gambling Regulation Amendment (Wagering and Bettering Tax) Bill 2021.

It’s predominantly focused around changing gambling regulations in Victoria, through increasing a tax called the point of consumption tax.

“Victoria has a point of consumption tax on online betting. This means betting companies pay tax in the place where a better makes their bet,”Leader of Victorians Greens Samantha Ratnam told Junkee.

“The bill debated yesterday increased Victoria’s rate to 10 percent [from 8 percent], leaving both Victoria and NSW as the states with the lowest rate in the country.”

What Does The Bill Actually Do?

Raising the point of consumption tax means that Victoria will be more in-line with the rest of Australia. NSW has been at 10% since 2019, but most states are already at 15%.

And increasing the tax online bookies pay on gambling profits through this bill “is actually a good thing on face value”, said Ratnam. That’s because it will make gambling and betting more expensive for big betting companies.

Which sounds like a positive thing, right? Well, it could have been if all of the income from the raised tax was, say, injected back into public services.

But a few years back, the Victorian government decided that a percentage of revenue from the point of consumption tax would be injected into the greyhound and horse racing industries.

The new bill — and its consequent changes to the tax — will increase that percentage by 35 percent.

A percentage of the revenue does also go to hospitals and charities.

What About Struggling Victorians?

Speaking to Junkee, Ratnam said that “while the Greens support a point of consumption tax, what we don’t support is the special government carve out that directs 35% of the tax revenue straight to the racing industry”.

In other words, Victoria’s state government is helping an industry that profits from gambling addiction and animal cruelty, rather than Victorians who, in light of COVID-19, have been dealt blow after blow with the most lockdowns across the country.

Why are we propping up an industry that glamorises animal cruelty when we could instead invest more money into looking after people in our community?

“At a time when people are really struggling, channelling the income from this tax into things like housing, health and education would make a lot more sense,” said Ratnam.

“Why are we propping up an industry that glamorises animal cruelty when we could instead invest more money into looking after people in our community?”

On Twitter, Ratnam pointed out that because of this new bill, “the racing industry stands to gain $83.3 million in the next financial year” which is almost $50 million more than it currently receives.

And let’s not forget that Racing Victoria received an estimated $16 million dollar package from the state’s COVID emergency funding, which led to a huge boom in revenue from online horse racing gambling.

Ratnam also told Junkee that the government used COVID-19 restrictions in the Chamber to pass the new bill, without having to hear from a number of government speakers, many of whom were in opposition.

That included Ratnam herself, who was planning to move an amendment to remove the payment to the racing industry from the bill, but was denied the ability to do so.

“The racing industry is built on animal cruelty. Plain and simple,” said Ratnam.

“Countless animals have been needlessly killed as a result of the industry and sadly our governments are all too willing to turn a blind eye… We cannot allow this cruelty to go on.”

The new bill is expected to come into play in the next financial year.

(Image: Gene Devine / Unsplash)