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Aus states now competing to license bookmakers

In Australia, the three main zones for corporate bookmakers are the Northern Territory (home of Centrebet, Sportsbet, Sportingbet, IASBet and numerous others), Tasmania (home of Betfair Aus) and the ACT (home of Sportsalive). When I say home, it's at least where their servers are based and a handful of staff - most have marketing and other departments based in Melbourne or Sydney. These three regions, two territories and Australia's smallest state, have little industry to speak of and need businesses in their region for employment, taxes etc. And they also have no deep-seated allegiance to TABs like the bigger states such as Victoria and New South Wales.

Internet bookmakers in NT welcome tax change

Tasmania recently threw the cat amongst the pigeons by scrapping the local tax on corporate bookmakers and adopting a $250k annual flat fee, a very attractive prospect for major firms turning over hundreds of millions per year. This was brought on by Betfair's five-year licence being up for renewal in early 2011, and the prospect of Victoria offering a carrot to move the exchange to the mainland. Thus Tasmania wanted to keep creating jobs for locals rather than seeing them disappear. Not to be outdone, the Northern Territory has now matched the Tasmanian offer, adopting a Gross Profits tax of 10%, capped at $250k. For the likes of Centrebet and Sportsbet, this is believed to save them up to $1m per year. The ACT is unlikely to follow suit as they would need to relax several other rules, such as the restriction of bookmakers offering tote odds.

Part of this radical change is to accommodate for the additional fees that bookmakers will be levied for from sports authorities, particularly horse racing, for the right to field on their events. After the recent movement of major UK bookies to Gibraltar again, perhaps we could see some more UK/European firms setting up in Australia to take advantage of these offers while the Aus industry is in state of rapid transition.

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