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Key decisions

  • Tabcorp Holdings Limited v Victoria [2016] HCA 4
  • Victoria v Tatts Group Limited [2016] HCA 5
  • The Queen v GW [2016] HCA 6
  • Moreton Bay Regional Council v Mekpine Pty Ltd [2016] HCA 7
  • R v Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commissioner [2016] HCA 8

Gaming regulation

Construction of statutes and agreements with government

In Tabcorp Holdings Limited v Victoria [2016] HCA 4 (2 March 2016) the High Court held that Tabcorp was not entitled to a terminal payment under the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 (Vic) (GR Act) following the non-renewal of their wagering and gaming licences.

Since 1991, Tabcorp and Tatts Group had enjoyed a duopoly over gaming licences. Section 4.3.23(1) of the GR Act, which applied specifically to Tabcorp, provided for a terminal payment – if new licences were issued, the holder of former licences would be entitled to a payout equal to the value of the former licences or the premium paid for the new licences. In 2008 and 2009, the government substantially restructured the regulation of the gaming industry, replacing the existing gaming licences with new gaming machine entitlements (GMEs). One result of this was that neither Tatts nor Tabcorp were to have their licences reissued. Tabcorp claimed entitlement to the terminal payment, arguing that the substantive operation of the GMEs was to authorise substantially the same activities as its licence.

The Court held that, properly construed, s 4.3.23 applied only in relation to new licences issued under the former structure of the GR Act. New licences did not include the grant of other entitlements (such as the GMEs under the new structure). Accordingly, Tabcorp was not entitled to a terminal payment. French CJ, Kiefel, Bell, Keane and Gordon JJ jointly. Appeal from the Court of Appeal (Vic) dismissed.

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