Melbourne’s Crown Casino has been locked in a nasty tax battle with the state tax authorities for three years running. Crown Casino is one of the top poker destinations in the world and has makes a lot of money from its poker offerings. The casino hosts one of the biggest poker tournaments called the Aussie Millions ever year and makes a lot of profit from the tournament. The state government has been keeping a close watch on the casino and has been pushing for the last three years to impose higher takes on the tournament.
The government wants to tax the rake collected by Crown Casino in all poker tournaments. The rational given by the government is that poker is essentially gambling and hence the government has a right to tax the rake collected by Crown as gambling money. This charge however has been opposed by Crown Resorts who refutes the government’s decision to classify poker as gambling. Crown’s argument is that poker is not the same as other casino games and the rake collected by the company is essentially a service cost for holding and promoting the tournament.
In a statement, a representative of Crown Casino said, “Poker tournaments are not considered to be equivalent to other forms of casino gambling as the player does not play against the house, the player plays against other players.” The casino also highlighted the fact that the state government does not tax poke games that take place in clubs and pubs across Australia and wants the same rule to be applied to the Crown Melbourne.
The argument given by Crown Casino has been rejected by some experts and professor Charles Livingston of Monash University is one of them. He believes that poker is gambling and the Government has every right to tax rake income from all poker related games that place at the Crown Casino as it constitutes gambling money. He is also critical of Crown’s stance over the years and accuses the company of getting away with what it wants.
The Crown Casino has been steadily increasing its involvement in poker games over the last few years and would stand to lose a lot of revenue if the government gets to impose taxes on poker games. The lawsuit between the two parties has continued for over three years and a decision in the near future does not appear very likely.