Sportsbet dumps SA data facility plan

Australian bookmaker SportsBet has scrapped its plan for a $20 million high tech data facility in South Australia after the state government’s decision to introduce a “punters tax”, local media reports.

Sportsbet CFO Ben Sleep said in a statement the data facility would have supported other such facilities in Darwin and Melbourne, and delivered millions of dollars of ongoing investment each year through maintenance, servicing and enhancements.

He said the investment will now be redirected to the Northern Territory.

“The South Australian Government’s decision to introduce its Punters Tax without industry consultation has created significant uncertainty, with South Australia now considered a high-risk investment destination for any Australian-based bookmaker,” Sleep said.

“Sportsbet cannot invest tens of millions of dollars into a state where its Government has shown that it is willing to significantly move the goal posts without consultation with those most affected.”

Sleep also announced the bookmaker has decided to end its ongoing sponsorship of the Gawler Racecourse, looking instead to move its support to Victoria.

“If the Government was to turn around tomorrow and ban bookmakers from advertising or sponsoring events in the state, much like its decision to introduce the unfair Punters Tax, Sportsbet could be liable to pay for advertisements and sponsorships we can’t use,” he said.

However, SA’s Council of Social Service said Sportsbet’s conduct was “outrageous and unsporting”, urging the Government to push on with the planned tax.

“The proposed wagering tax is an important way to ensure that profits from South Australian betting are taxed in SA, and can be directed to services for South Australians – including support for the problem gamblers that live here and not in virtual tax havens where corporate bookies may choose to nominally reside,” he added.