By Caitlin Crowley

ONLINE betting companies will soon be forced to pay their “fair share” of tax under sweeping changes to racing funding in Queensland, announced today.

The move has been described as a “game changer” by racing industry leaders, particularly for provincial, rural and remote race clubs.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said the changes were about “levelling the playing field” for all wagering operators, after an influx of new, online betting companies in recent years, effectively undermined the current funding arrangement.

“We forecast this will put about $80 million dollars a year into Racing Queensland, replacing all other sources of revenue and doing so on a much broader and sustainable basis,” the Treasurer said.

“Ensuring that organisations profiting from Queensland’s thriving racing industry are investing into its future too.”

The changes include a new five percent racing levy added to the betting tax, broadening the betting tax to include free and bonus bets and increasing the proportion of betting tax revenue that goes directly to the racing industry from 35 per cent 80 per cent.

“This is not a tax on punters, this is a levy on big online betting companies,” Cameron Dick said.

Country racing will benefit from significant funding changes announced today

Toowoomba Turf Club CEO Lizzy King said the funding model was a “game changer” which will allow clubs to improve facilities for stakeholders and guests.

“Toowoomba and the Darling Downs is absolutely the heartland of racing in Queensland,” she said.

“We’re very excited about this announcement today.”

There are 125 racing clubs in Queensland and for 85 of them, a race meeting is the biggest or second biggest event in their community each year, according to the state government.

“For many of those clubs, a race meeting is a once-a-year event that is an unparalleled opportunity for people to get together,” Cameron Dick said.

“Our government recognises how important those gatherings are to the social fabric of Queensland, and today’s announcement will help them thrive into the future.”

Critically for country clubs, Racing Minister Grace Grace said the changes would also offer more sponsorship opportunities.

“While Tabcorp will still offer on-course betting services and retain retail exclusivity, its on-course ‘sponsorship and advertising’ exclusivity will end once these changes take effect,” she said.

“This means race clubs across Queensland will have opportunities to enter into new sponsorship agreements with other wagering service providers.”

“We’ve got sustainable funding that will be incorporated for country racing – country racing will continue to thrive.”

The huge crowd at Burrandowan Races last month

Since 2014, Racing Queensland funding has been reliant on an agreement with Tabcorp that will now be unwound as part of the new funding model.

Tabcorp’s CEO Adam Rytenskild welcomed the move as a “big shot in the arm for the Queensland racing industry.”

“It’s also great for TABs in pubs and clubs, and great for punters right across Queensland,” he said.

“The Queensland racing industry will finally receive a fair share of funding from foreign-owned betting companies – who have grown rapidly, taking the TABs market share and therefore undercutting racing industry funding.”

Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said it’s a strategic and substantial shift that will give the organisation the confidence to invest in infrastructure and jobs.

“This is unique – this is a really sustainable way forward for the racing industry,” Parnell said.

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