Saturday, October 13, 2007

Victoria's Labor Party to tax the poor more

The Labor Party has expanded its regime of taxing the poor in Victoria. Gambling taxes are overwhelmingly borne by the disadvantaged. Moreover, almost all taxes to this point from gambling have come from poker machines concentrated in poor areas – a survey of various posts I have made on this issue is here. Lotteries (Lotto, Oz Lotto, Powerball and Scratchies) are currently a minor part of total gambling activity which is overwhelming devoted to the pokies. As Paul Keating said, these gambling products are a tax on the poor.

The Victorian Labor Party is doing what it can to change that. The monopoly that Tattslotto had on the lottery market has been broken with it still running Lotto, Oz Lotto and Powerball but with the instant lotteries and scratchies being awarded to the Greek firm Intralot. The Victorian Government expects to make up to $3 billion annually from this expanded gambling regime through the hefty taxes it levies on gambling.

Intralot spokesman – (and ex Labor Party Treasurer of Victoria) Tony Sheehan must be pleased as punch. Intralot is expected to offer these gambling products through an expanded range of outlets such as service stations and convenience stores. This will be a long-term disaster for working people – there will be a propensity to have a bet every time they do the shopping, buy petrol or get a newspaper.

While the community as a whole has had a gutful of the social problems gambling imposes, Labor proposes to expand it on another major front.

Tony Robinson, Labor's Victorian Gaming Minister is a co-owner of a racehorse with auditor Geoff Walsh who oversaw the probity of the lottery licence allocations. I suppose ex-state Gaming Minister, David White, who acted for Tattersals would have been disappointed but Tattersals itself didn’t seem to mind much – the big current money is with the pokies and Tattersals retains that monopoly. Giving up this part of its business got right of the nightmarish PR problems it has experienced by employing ex-Labor Gaming Minister White to argue its case.

The Labor Party has dressed up its attack on working class living standards as an attempt to introduce competition and efficiency into the gambling industry. That is deceit. There won’t be competition - the products offered by the duopolists have largely different markets. It only means that previously huge gambling opportunities are further expanded.

This is an unprincipled policy by an utterly unprincipled State Labor Party.

These hypocrites couldn’t care less about the working class constituents they claim to represent - their stated ideology is a deception designed to win votes for a talentless bunch of nonentities primarily interested in lining their own pockets. It also represents a cave-in to those ex Labor Party pollies and party officials now working for the gaming industry. Most of all, it is a total tragedy for the 200,000 Victorians fighting problem gambling problems.

In Victoria it is Vote 1 for total hypocrisy: Vote 1 Labor.


Spiros said...

If you're not in favour of the competition provided by Intralot, Harry, then you must support Tattersalls keeping their monopoly.

Who benefits from that (apart from Tattersalls)?

Your analysis conflates electronic gaming machines, the nature of which is conducive to problem gamblers losing vast sums very quickly, to other forms of gambling, where the problems are not nearly as bad.

hc said...

Spiros, Its a fair inference you have drawn but I don't think it is correct. There is a big revival of interest in lotteries in Europe and they can be pushed to extremes - vitually every time you make a retail transaction you can be offered a scratchie. So while there is not the insidious tendency to repeat play as on the pokies (notice however shoppers buying large numbers of scratchies at a time) there is a huge new market for gambling opening up here because the gambling offers are everywhere.

This is nmoyt competition at all here - its a new market being developed by Intralot.