Page 5284 - Week 14 - Thursday, 19 November 2009

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a government fee. The purpose of the bill is to provide a legal framework for the clubs to charge a fee for the use of their race field information. The clubs have a product—namely, their race field information—but without the legal framework it would be impractical to collect fees for its use.

The scheme that the bill enables requires licensed Australian wagering operators to obtain approval to use ACT race field information. Those approved operators whose annual assessable turnover on all ACT racing exceeds $1.5 million will be liable to pay the charge. The scheme is consistent with similar schemes in other Australian jurisdictions. Wagering operators throughout Australia are currently paying fees to interstate racing bodies to bet on their racing.

This bill will give the ACT clubs a similar ability to obtain access to revenue from the national wagering turnover generated by their racing. The government has consulted with the ACT racing clubs in introducing this legislation and the clubs have supported its introduction. The bill makes it a requirement for licensed Australian wagering operators to apply for approval if they wish to use ACT race field information and for the Gambling and Racing Commission to consider the applications.

Conditions will apply to the approval to use race field information. The main condition is that a charge will be payable by approved operators whose assessable turnover exceeds a threshold of $1.5 million on all ACT racing in the approval year. As I mentioned before, the revenue generated by the charge will belong to the ACT’s racing clubs. Regulations will prescribe other conditions of approval, such as requiring the wagering operator to advise pertinent changes and circumstances and any disciplinary action taken against the operator by a racing control body. While the threshold determines which operators are liable for the charge, the amendments provide for the charge itself to be calculated as a fixed percentage of the wagering operator’s net revenue.

Each relevant racing controlling body will determine the rate that applies to its racing. Smaller operators, whose turnover on all ACT racing is less than $1.5 million, will not be required to pay the charge, but they will be required to be approved to use the information. The amount of revenue that would be generated by these operators is relatively minor. The bill will make it an offence to use race field information without approval, to fail to pay the race field information charge and to fail to comply with a condition of approval. Each offence carries a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units, imprisonment for six months or both.

It is not intended that this scheme place an undue administrative burden on wagering operators. Most, if not all, wagering operators who wish to wager on ACT races will have systems in place to pay the charges. This is because they will already have undertaken similar requirements imposed by other jurisdictions. The charge will become payable from 1 March 2010. This date will provide time to obtain applications from wagering operators, to consider their approval and to revise them accordingly. As I mentioned, this scheme is similar to those established in other jurisdictions where there is a charge for race field information.

In all states the scheme is enabled by legislation. However, unlike schemes in most of the other jurisdictions which are administered by the local racing control bodies, the

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