The Victorian state government has long-standing dubious relations with the gambling industry. Many former ministers and party hacks work as consultants for the industry. But I thought that John Brumby’s ending of the Tabcorp-Tattersall’s poker machine duopoly and the ending on the Tattersall’s control of the lottery market might have signified a cautionary move by Labor to restore its credibility.
However, according to The Sunday Age (and here) the decision to award the Packer clan’s Crown Casino an extra 150 gaming tables for nothing – Kennett sold the rights to the last extra 150 machines in 1995 for $86m. The tax paid on Crown’s poker machines will be 32% compared to the rate paid in pubs of 58%. The preferential tax rate is locked in for 13 years.
I don’t know whether corruption, sucking up to James Packer or plain stupidity is involved here. But the poor will pay these taxes – in money and in ruined lives – and the Labor Party will have rebuilt bridges with the Packer clan and entrenched the monopoly position of Crown for a decade or more. The ‘light on the hill’ still glows.