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Bookies "To Take On" Racing Vic Over $3m Taxes

Friday, 15th July 2011

Several of Victoria's leading bookmakers “could soon begin Supreme Court action against Racing Victoria alleging deceptive & misleading conduct over as much as $3 million in levies they claim RV has overcharged them” reported The Age. In a claim “that could stretch the financial resources of Victorian racing's governing body, many of the state's bookmakers - of which there are 170 licensed in Victoria - allege they were taxed at an incorrect rate by RV for about 2 years”. The newspaper noted: “But more damning for RV is a further allegation that most bookmakers were misled into signing a form last year that they claim waived their right to choose between a 10% gross revenue tax & that of the pre-existing levy of 1% of turnover.” Victorian Bookmakers Association executive officer John Clancy confirmed the VBA (which is a member shareholder in RV) “had engaged a Queen's counsel to help with negotiations with RV to recoup the outstanding amount & to examine whether the prescribed form issued with the yearly licence renewal forms was misleading”. Clancy added: “It is fair to say that a number of bookmakers genuinely believe they were misled with that document.” The document “was sent to bookmakers at the start of the racing season - more than 18 months after the rule change - which put them on a gross revenue model, unless they stipulated they wanted to remain on a turnover model. Few, if any, of the bookmakers realised the new rule existed.” Clancy emphasised: “There is no evidence to suggest that bookmakers had been informed of their options.” The newspaper reported: “It is believed that as many as a dozen of Victoria's biggest bookmakers - which are owed the bulk of the estimated $3 million by RV - are considering legal action under the Trade Practices Act against RV for deceptive & misleading conduct. Bookmakers also want clarification of the levy period, as it is claimed RV is using a 1-week period to calculate individual levies rather than the 12-month period that is stipulated in the rules of racing.” However RV chief executive Rob Hines “denied claims that the document sent out last year was in any way misleading” & retorted: “It was sent simply to remind them that the (levy) option was there, as a number of them hadn't filled out the form.” Hines added negotiations to repay bookmakers what they were owed were “almost complete” & that “refunds would be sent in the next few weeks”. He confirmed RV “had not taken any levies from any Victorian bookmakers since the 1st week of April as it began negotiations”.

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