Govt removes Burswood shareholding Togel Hari Ini cap
THE Western Australian Government agreed to remove casino and resort operator Burswood Ltd’s 10 per cent shareholding cap in September 2003, opening the door to a potential takeover.
It will also reduce the 15 per cent tax rate from Burswood’s international gambling business as part of a number of proposed amendments to the Casino (Burswood Island) Agreement Act.
After 18 months of negotiations, Racing and Gaming Minister Nick Griffiths yesterday outlined the proposed changes which require parliamentary approval.
Under the new agreement, any Burswood share ownership of more than 10 per cent would no longer require ministerial approval.
Instead, it would be subject to probity approval by the Gaming Commission of WA.
“Certainly it will enable Australian shareholders to acquire more shares in Burswood … that will be for the benefit of Burswood but more importantly for the state in term of jobs, development and increased revenue,” Mr Griffiths told reporters.
Removal of the cap would almost certainly put the resort casino in play with Kerry Packer’s Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd (PBL), Jupiters, Tabcorp and Sky City all touted as potential predators.
A 40 per cent shareholding limit for foreign shareholders remains in place.
Proposed casino tax changes include a staged four per cent reduction from the current 15 per cent tax on revenue from international gambling, and a new three-tiered taxation rate from December 24, 2002.
This would increase the tax rate for Burswood’s gaming machines from 15 to 20 per cent over the next two years.
The Burswood Park Board levy of one per cent of casino gross revenue remains unchanged.
The government has also agreed to an increase in the number of Togel Hari Ini gaming machines of up to 1500 machines by 2004, representing an increase of about 200 machines.
Chief executive John Schaap described the proposed amendments as pragmatic.
“The shareholder cap, I think it is a pragmatic outcome,” he said.
“The issue of the taxes – we always knew we would have to pay more taxes but to have been able to achieve a three-tiered system which recognises those levels of our business and the competitive nature of the business, I think for us is a very good outcome.”
Mr Griffiths said based on forward estimates for the next four years, the proposed casino tax changes would generate an additional $13 million in state revenue.
He said the changes were designed to bolster Burswood’s competitiveness, stimulate employment, boost tourism and to increase state revenue in an economic environment vastly different from when the casino was established in 1985.
Mr Griffiths also said Burswood’s white elephant, the uneconomic Burswood Dome, home of the Hopman Cup, would not be demolished.
“The current agreement with Burswood makes it clear the Burswood Dome remains unless the government says otherwise.”
Mr Schaap said the Dome wasn’t included in the negotiations and it was “a matter for another day”.
“What we have said consistently is we love the Hopman Cup and we will continue to support it wherever we can,” he said.