Gaming Machine Tax Amendment (Promotional Prizes) Bill 2021

16 November 2021

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG (Macquarie Fields) (12:41): — I lead for the Opposition in debate on the Gaming Machine Tax Amendment (Promotional Prizes) Bill 2021.

The bill clarifies several definitions in the Gaming Machine Tax Act 2001 to ensure consistency across the State in applying tax collection practices on gaming machines. The bill is largely a housekeeping measure, and the Opposition will not oppose it.

The changes provide certainty for gaming machine operators and potentially avoid future litigation about whether types of promotional prizes are considered legal bets that are liable for taxation purposes.

With the significant changes in gaming technology, a bet can be placed using a range of monetary and non‑monetary methods. Our laws require regular updating to provide certainty and consistency for taxpayers and our tax revenue system.

Whilst there exists some understanding between operators and the New South Wales Government on whether such bets are taxable, these amendments give certainty for all parties involved.

Schedule 1 inserts the updated definitions of outgoings, promotional prizes, progressive jackpot prizes, winnings and revenue that now include the use of promotional prizes. These definitional changes inevitably influence State revenue from gaming machines.

 As reported in July this year, Crown casino had to pay back $61 million in underpaid taxes after the Victorian royal commission found that incorrect deductions involving reward bonuses were provided to poker machine players. We want to avoid that situation in New South Wales.

Whilst the bill is relatively semantic in its nature, it provides me with the opportunity to pass some comments on the Liberal Government and its use of taxpayer money, given that we are debating taxation purposes of what is considered to be a bet.

Let me start with some punter lingo: The odds of winning Powerball are between one in 76 million or one in 134 million; the odds of winning a million dollars in Lotto are one in eight million; and the odds of winning the top prize on the pokies are about one in 9.7 million. On any assessment, the odds of winning on these games of chance are somewhat astronomical.

Yet they pale into insignificance compared with an everyday punter's odds in Sydney's west, south‑west and regional areas of getting a fair go from this Liberal Government.

If this Liberal Government was a casino and subject to inspection, it would surely lose its licence and if it was a bookmaker, it would surely be run off the track.

Sadly, no amount of regulation or legislation will improve the odds for the average punter when it comes to getting its fair share from this Government because, under this Government, the odds are always stacked towards the house.

Tollway owners, developers, lobbyists and consultants always win the jackpot under this Government. For them, it is always pay day.

But we know that for every winner there are always multiple losers, and in this State it is not hard to find them—toll users, elective surgery patients, kids in hot classrooms, people trying to crack the property market, TAFE students, commuters inconvenienced by numerous transport bungles and that does not include all those who live in non‑Liberal seats and who, by default, miss out on Government spending in every budget.

There are losers everywhere under this Liberal Government.

The "gamble responsibly" warning is well known in New South Wales; it is a pity that this Government does not heed its own warning when it comes to spending taxpayers' money.

Perhaps recent investigations by the ICAC will be the catalyst for this Liberal Government to finally accept that it must also spend responsibly.

I could go on ad nauseam about how this Government could raise the bar and spend responsibly, fairly and in the public interest. For example, it could heed its own department's advice and accept the data that lifts need to be installed at my local station in Macquarie Fields, or it could save billions of dollars in budget blowouts and build transport infrastructure locally.

The door of this working-class economist is always open if the Government needs ideas.

Clarity and certainty are the themes of the bill before us at the moment. They are themes that I support, and the Opposition will not oppose this bill.

My wish is that tax revenue that is collected under this bill is spent by the Liberal Government responsibly, fairly, and according to need and evidence.

Public money and taxpayers' dollars are not the Liberal Government's political slush fund or personal piggy bank that it can raid without any sort of accountability.