Wednesday 11. November, 2015

Tatts and Tabcorp Claim Compensation from the Victorian Government

Major Australian gambling and wagering groups, Tatts and Tabcorp are claiming compensation against the Victorian Government to the tune of $1 billion. The companies are claiming compensation for lost gaming licenses following gambling reforms that the Victorian government introduced that removed their established poker machine duopoly in the state.

The reforms came into effect in 2012 allowing pokies to be operated outside Crown Casino, in pubs and clubs. It brought to an end the 18 year duopoly that the two companies had, with more than 27,000 machines.

In 2014, the Supreme Court of Victoria ordered the Victorian Government to pay Tatts $450 million plus $89.3 million in interest payments in compensation due to a termination agreement. However, Tabcorp’s claim for $670 million was rejected by the court with its argument that the government should compensate it under statute law, not contract law.

Tabcorp claimed that money should be returned to them for advance payments it made on its gambling licenses. It stated that this obligation to pay compensation could be traced back to its privatisation of the TAB and the listing of Tabcorp on the ASX in 1994. From 1994-2008, Tabcorp claims that the government recognised this obligation. However, the government countered that the legislation mentioned was repealed in 2008.

Furthermore, Wendy Harris QC argued for the government that it was not obligated to award compensation because new licenses did not have to be awarded to the companies beyond the original 18-year license that was granted in 1995.

In May, Tabcorp was granted special leave to appeal the decision of the Supreme Court to the High Court and the two groups are now awaiting a ruling from the High Court on whether the termination agreements claimed by them were valid.

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