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ABC News
ABC News
state political reporter Richard Willingham

Crown poker machine taxes brought in line with pubs and clubs as Victorian government clamps down in budget

Increased taxing on Crown Casino's poker machines will raise $30 million in revenue for the Victorian government from mid-2023. (ABC News)

Melbourne's embattled Crown Casino will pay more tax on its 2600 poker machines under changes to be outlined in next week's Victorian budget.

The tax increase will mean the casino pays the same amount of tax on pokies winnings as clubs and pubs.

For years government was unable to raise the tax rate without having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation due to laws made by the Napthine government in 2014.

But in the wake of the damning Royal Commission into Crown Casino the state government removed that provision.

Gambling taxes are worth $2 billion to state coffers. Treasurer Tim Pallas said the change would increase revenue by $30 million a year from July 2023.

"This is a fair way of ensuring that every taxpayer pays their part,'' Mr Pallas said.

The Andrews government will also spend $55.6 million to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Casino, which found that Crown Resorts was unsuitable to hold its licence.

But rather than tear up its licence, the government has given Crown two years to improve its practices and show it can properly operate the multi-billion-dollar business.

A special monitor has been set up to oversee Crown's operations with the majority of the $55 million going towards that work.

"We're getting on with delivering the reforms and investments needed to strengthen oversight of Crown and the whole Victorian gambling industry, with a focus on harm minimisation,'' Minister for Gambling and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne said.

A Crown spokesperson told the ABC that "Crown will work with the Victorian Government on the proposed changes".

Crown Casino has been given two years to improve its practices and retain its licence. (ABC News)

Unions urge for restraint on planned public service cuts

The normal lead-up to the state budget has been overshadowed by the federal election. It has meant the Andrews government has not had its normal drip of announcements leading up to next Tuesday's budget.

The budget will have a big focus on health, with a blitz on the surgery wait list already announced.

Debt has continued to soar in the past few years as the government borrows to pay for its COVID response and to build new infrastructure.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy predicted debt would continue to balloon.

The government is also being lobbied by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) to ease planned cuts to the public service.

Before the pandemic the government conducted a baseline review of the public service, to inform it where savings could be made.

Public sector wages continue to be a major proportion of the budget and $1.7 billion worth of cuts have been outlined over the next three years.

CPSU secretary Karen Batt has urged the government to be sensible because cuts could diminish services provided to Victorians.

"We think there is a threat to quality service delivery, there are delays to just about every government program now,'' Ms Batt said.

"If there is less public servants to do the work Victorians need those backlogs will continue to get longer and longer."

A Victorian Government spokesman said the government was committed to the savings identified in previous budgets.

"We are delivering our four-step fiscal strategy that continues to drive Victoria's economic recovery and maximise benefits for all Victorians,'' he said.

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