Reducing tax on racing bets will help make NSW the biggest racing state in Australia, Deputy Premier and Racing Minister Troy Grant says.
The current tax rate of $3.22 per $100 wagered will be cut to $1.28 per $100, Mr Grant announced on Tuesday.
The cuts will bring the tax rate for thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing into line with Victoria by 2020.
However Mr Grant says any extra funds to be returned to the greyhound industry will be quarantined pending the outcome of an investigation into the live-baiting scandal.
He says the racing industry, which is worth $3.3 billion per year to NSW, needs to be able to compete on a level playing field.
“Otherwise we’re sending jobs and investment interstate,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mr Grant said the cuts would return $235 million to the industry over the next four years.
NSW Premier Mike Baird said the aim is to turn The Championships into an event that can overtake the Melbourne Spring Carnival and provide enough prize money to rival the Melbourne Cup.
“We want to take the business off the other states and bring it here to NSW,” Mr Grant told ABC Radio.
“We can have the biggest racing industry in the country given our geographic size and the amount of participants, but we want it to be the best,” he said.
Racing NSW welcomed the announcement.
“In the two years we’ve had The Championship it’s grown considerably – if it continues to grow at this rate we’ll certainly be giving The Melbourne Cup a good nudge as the best racing event in Australia,” Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys told 2GB radio.
But there are concerns the tax cuts will increase problem gambling.
“The Baird government is about to deliver a win to the well-cashed-up racing lobby and its powerful allies in the gambling industry,” said Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
“This is a win for racing and a loss for problem gamblers, the state’s economy and animal welfare.”
Mr Kaye said if the NSW Liberals and Nationals had a spare $85 million, it could be spent on employing 850 new teachers or nurses.