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Australian State Government Imposes Levy on Poker Machines

19 April 2001

AUSTRALIA –– As reported by the Australian "Victoria's powerful gaming operators have been hit with a $1200 levy on poker machines to help fund the state's beleaguered public hospital system.

"Announcing the levy yesterday, Treasurer John Brumby said it would raise $35 million a year from the state's 30,000 poker machines, with the proceeds to go directly to the upgrade of hospital facilities.

"…The levy, coming on top of a $333 charge already in place, means each gaming machine will contribute $1533 to the state's coffers.

"...The Treasurer said that in setting a new levy the government had weighed the needs of investors for certainty and confidence and the interests and rights of gaming operators against community expectations about the level of return from gaming profits.

…Mr Brumby said he had had three separate meetings with representatives of the gaming operators Tattersalls, Tabcorp and Crown Casino, and did not expect they would be happy with his decision. But he said he did not believe it would affect investor confidence in the state.

"He also rejected suggestions the government's decision in striking the levy at a rate lower than that suggested by the Harvey report had been influenced by a donation to the Labor Party by a company owned by the Packer family.

"…Tattersalls spokesman John Harris said that although the gaming machine operator was `not happy' with the impost, it was appropriate that the funds raised be directed to hospitals. Mr Harris said Tattersalls hoped Mr Brumby's announcement would bring to an end the `piecemeal changes' wrought by the government on the gaming industry…"

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