Foreign bookies to pay levies

Plans to levy foreign bookies taking bets on local sports and racing events in New Zealand are moving forward, according to local sources.

Legislation has now been introduced into Parliament which will require foreign bookies taking bets from New Zealanders to pay two levies: an information charge, and a consumption levy.

The information charge would apply to bets on events taking place in New Zealand and the consumption levy which would apply to all bets taken from New Zealanders irrespective of where the event was taking place.

The legislation follows a report from a government and racing industry working party which estimated up to NZ$45 million (US$33.4 million) in revenue was being lost by New Zealanders betting offshore.

In New Zealand, the racing industry owns the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) which has a statutory monopoly on betting on horses and dogs. Profits are returned to the industry, and bookmaking is illegal.

The revenue lost is the estimated amount of fees and charges which offshore agencies avoid paying to the government or the racing industry.

The scheme set out the legislation now before Parliament relies on foreign bookies voluntarily paying the levies, and the report of the working party was expecting a high level of compliance.

However, a regulatory impact statement from the Department of Internal Affairs, which monitors the gaming and racing industries, was more cautious that all or most of the lost revenue could be recovered by voluntary compliance. Foreign bookies can be fined up to NZ$50,000 for non-compliance.

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