Bookies threaten strike over bets levy
Terry Waldron. Pic: WA News

WA bookmakers are threatening radical action over changes to the racing bets levy and legislation that does not allow them to take top fluctuation bets.

WA bookmakers pay the highest levy in Australia - 1.5 per cent of gross turnover, which does not include their bet backs - and the highest stand fees.

The turnover tax jumps to two per cent for November 1 to January 1 as part of changes to the levy for the use of WA race fields announced by Racing and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron on October 5.

Melbourne bookmakers pay one per cent on net turnover, which includes bet backs, up to an annual threshold of $5 million.

They do not pay stand fees.

WA Bookmakers' Association president Jason Cheetham claims the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor told the WABA this year that the racing bets levy would be in parity with other States.

Cheetham said at least half of the 12 on-course bookmakers fielding at prime Ascot or Belmont Park meetings have been issued notices for breaching betting control regulations by offering and accepting top fluctuation bets, mostly from interstate clients, this year.

WA is the only State where top fluctuation bets are not permitted.

"We're prepared to do whatever it takes to be heard. If that means going on strike, if that means going on course and just betting on Melbourne and Sydney during a feature race day in Perth, so be it," Cheetham said. "It seems to me the only way we're going to be heard is to take drastic action.

"We're a dying breed already and it needs to be more viable.

"At the moment it's hard for us to bet people interstate because we can't offer the same bet types."

A spokesman for Waldron said changes to the levy were a result of consultation with industry stakeholders.

The West Australian

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