By Clyde Mooney – editor Australian Hotelier

Gambling giants Tabcorp and Tatts have had mixed results in their stoushes with the Victorian Government this week, winning massive compensation, but also reinstated tax bills. 

Yesterday the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria upheld treasurer Michael O’Brien’s appeal of a ruling made 12 months ago that significantly reduced the $42 million in levies to be paid by each of the companies.

The case centred on the Government’s application of a ‘Health Benefit Levy’ (HBL) to the companies for FY13, which they argued did not apply as their duopoly on the State’s poker machines ended 15 August 2012.

However, this decision pales in comparison to the billion dollar outcome handed down in Victoria’s Supreme Court a few days ago that quashed Tabcorp’s $686 million claim for compensation but awarded the bulk of Tatts’ $490 million claim.

Supreme Court judge Kim Hargrave ruled on the action launched by the two companies in 2012, seeking recompense for being stripped of their poker machine licences by the Brumby Government.

Justice Hargrave ruled Tatts was eligible for $451 million plus interest, which is expected to exceed $540 million and will put a large dent in the Victorian budget.

The favourable result for Tatts stemmed from an agreement it made with the Kennett Liberal Government in the 1995, under which the company paid substantial licence fees for control of the poker machines.  

Justice Hargrave dismissed Tabcorp’s claim citing that the language under the amendments to the Gambling Act overhauled in 2009 could not be interpreted in the company’s favour.

The Victorian Government and Tabcorp are understood to be considering appeals of the respective decisions.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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