Tabcorp and Tatts are demanding refunds from the government of Victoria, after their licenses expired in 2012.
Two poker machine operators have sued the Victorian Government for over $1.3 billion, claiming that they are entitled to generous payouts under Australian gambling laws.
The country’s former regulations, as described by the 1994 Gaming and Betting Act, awarded Tatts and Tabcorp the right to run all of the state’s poker machines. Their licenses expired in August 2012 and, instead of renewing them, the state authority handed out new ones to individual venues.
Soon after, company owners said they were entitled to a payout under a special clause included in the 1994 legislation and decided to take their case to court.
Taxpayers to pay the bill
Representing Tabcorp, Alan Archibald Queens Council argued that the company was owed more than $750 million as a license fee refund. In addition, Tatts is asking for another $590 million plus interest. Should the two companies win, all damages, as well as any additional legal fees will come out of Australian taxpayers’ money.
Meanwhile, representatives of the Victorian state are claiming they do not owe the gambling companies any money, simply because the 1994 law has been replaced by new regulations and is no longer enforceable.
Victoria’s poker machine industry is estimated at $2.3 billion, with over 27,000 machines spread across the state, and the two companies are not willing to give them up without a fight. The federal government is responsible for regulations regarding advertising and online gambling sites in Australia, but states can apply their own laws.