GREG Gunston, owner of South Tweed Bowls Shop at South Tweed Sports Club, said that since the gambling tax on poker machines ha
GREG Gunston, owner of South Tweed Bowls Shop at South Tweed Sports Club, said that since the gambling tax on poker machines ha

Showdown over NSW pokie tax

By MADELEINE DOHERTY

TWEED club bosses head to Sydney this week to prepare for a new showdown with the state government over poker machine taxes.

With the tax on pokies in force for the second year in 2006, Twin Towns boss Rob Smith said the Tweed CEOs would join a special general meeting of all NSW club chiefs on Wednesday to thrash out the issue.

Introduced in 2004, the tax was expected to raise $39 million for the state government last year and $1.6 billion over the next seven years.

Many clubs feared they would be crippled by the tax and protested loudly sparking an offer from the government to raise the financial threshold on clubs required to the pay the tax from $300,000 to $1 million.

But Mr Smith said the offer only gave relief to smaller clubs leaving the situation for larger clubs unchanged. Twin Towns Services Club is looking at paying an extra $21 million over the seven years from 2004-2011.

Mr Smith said he hoped Wednesday's meeting would prompt the government to find a more satisfactory resolution. But if no resolution was found, clubs could turn their focus to next year's state election, he said. The state opposition has offered clubs significant relief should it win government.

Tweed clubs ? 10 of 15 now pay extra tax ? face an $86 million double whammy between 2004 and 2010 with a Clubs NSW spokesperson revealing Tweed clubs would pay an extra $47 million in pokie tax in that period.

At the same time, indoor smoking bans would reduce their income by $39 million.

Mr Smith said at this stage Twin Towns had not cut jobs or services to the community and was absorbing the cost.

Seagulls tax bill will increase by $13 million between 2004 and 2010.

Already the club has cut free entertainment by more than $100,000 a year, community sponsorships have been placed on hold indefinitely and they have increased bar and catering prices more frequently.

Other Tweed community groups have felt the impact of the poker machine tax with bowlers at South Tweed Sports Club now having to pay for their own shirts and transport to competitions.

A spokesperson from Premier Morris Iemma's office said clubs had rejected a proposal that would have seen 60 per cent of clubs exempt from paying any tax back in December.

He said it would have left 820 clubs with no tax whereas only 380 clubs were exempt from tax previously.



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