SkyCity and TAB join forces to fight taxes - Friday 15th of February 2008

SKYCITY Casino is suing the State Government after it was forced to pay for the regulation of the states gambling industry.

Gambling Minister Paul Caica declared the move was necessary to provide more money for health, education, and law and order services, but the casino claims the Government has breached its contract by increasing taxes.

The casino, which made a $17.9 million operating profit last year, has launched proceedings in the Supreme Court after the Government passed a law late last year resulting in the casino having to pay $1.25 million to operate the Office of Liquor and Gambling each year.

SA TAB is also suing the Government after it was forced to pay an extra $300,000. The Government can increase the annual payment at its discretion.

Legal sources have told The Advertiser that the Government could be forced to pay up to $12 million in compensation if it loses. The sources also said Treasurer Kevin Foley and Opposition gambling spokesman Iain Evans could be called as witnesses.

SkyCity Adelaide communications manager Vanessa Regan said the company wanted to ensure the Government honoured its contractual commitment. "SkyCity Adelaide is already the highest taxed casino in Australia and the Government makes far more money from the casino than SkyCity does," she said.

Government ministers refused to comment yesterday but Gambling Minister Paul Caica told Parliament last year that the move was "a small and integral part of the Governments budget strategy".

"It is this measure that contributes to the reprioritisation of government expenditure to the front-line services . . ." he said.

Mr Evans yesterday said the law was a disgrace. "The legislation is an absolute disgrace, the Government have a contract with SkyCity and the TAB on their taxation rate," he said. "The Government have now tried to do a double-cross. I think the casino and TAB are being singled out because the Government sees them as big players with no public sympathy."

Business SA chief executive Peter Vaughan said the Government should not break its contracts by passing new laws.

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