Trinidad Express / The Gaming Industry intends to respond to the Government’s decision to increase taxes on the industry in every lawful manner.

This according to the T&T Private Members’ Clubs Association, which says that “thousands that will be affected by this inhumane increase”.

The Association says it will ensure that “the Ministers in their Ivory Towers understand the plight of the workers.

The Government cannot continue to proceed with the deluded concept that taxation is a revenue generating option for our nation. We call upon the Government to take heed of our request and withdraw any increases in taxing the gaming industry while legislation is before the Joint Select Committee”.

In a statement on Monday night, hours after the Budget presentation of Finance Minister Colm Imbert, the Association issued a statement.

Stakeholders are of the view that the gaming increases in taxation for the industry as an act of bad faith by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in particular the Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert. 

“The Government appears to have singled out the Gaming Industry as one of the few areas of the national economy as a source of taxation revenue to bear the burden of the nation’s economic challenges.

Over the last year various stakeholders have been in communication with the Ministry of Finance and participating with the Joint Select Committee of the Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in developing relevant and fair Gaming legislation that will regulate the Industry, yet without any notice or consultation the taxes on the industry was dramatically increased”.

A Summary of the increases in taxes includes:

Gambling Type  Present2018

REGULAR POKER               $               30,000.00         $               60,000.00

Caribbean Stud  $               75,000.00         $             150,000.00

BLACKJACK Table             $               60,000.00          $             120,000.00

Baccarat Table   $               50,000.00          $             100,000.00

Dice Table           $               35,000.00          $               70,000.00

Roulette Table   $               60,000.00          $             120,000.00

Rhum 32 Table  $               75,000.00          $             150,000.00

Sip Sam Table    $               75,000.00          $             150,000.00

OTHER DEVICES                 $               30,000.00         $               60,000.00

SLOT MACHINES               $               12,000.00          $               24,000.00

Other Taxes also include: 

Amusement machines in bars from $3000 to $6000. Roulette machines in bars – $120,000 Yearly Flat Tax of $120,000 per year Import tax on machines from 20% to 40%  

The Association said that given the level of economic decline in the country over the last eighteen months, the gaming industry has suffered a tremendous down-turn due to a significant decrease in patronage.

“In many cases casinos have begun to reduce not only staff but also overall expenditure. The TTMCA takes this opportunity to state that the introduction of new increases in taxes will not necessarily result in more revenues for the government if it not accompanied by correspondent strong enforcement.  Minister Imbert admitted in his Budget contribution that compliance is 10% (we dispute this figure) will increase in taxes increase compliance?”

The Association said that that the increased taxes will do is to punish those who are complying with the authorities already.

“Currently there are tax laws and regulatory requirements in place yet these are not enforced and as such rogue elements exist and thrive. These particular establishments serve to unfairly tarnish the many lawfully operating gaming institutions in the country”.

The Association outlined what it said would be the Impact of increasing taxes

Less Revenue to the Government as many PMCs will either close or reduce the amount of gaming machines, tables and devices. Increase social Cost to the Government as staff reductions will take place, thereby reducing the contributions to both National Insurance Scheme and Health Surcharge and P.A.Y.E The fallout from staff reductions will lead to overburdening the current Health Care System as is currently taking place with the terminated workers from Arcelor Mittal, OAS, TDC, Caroni Green, SIDC, WASA etc. Unemployment will add to the level of crime and criminal activities. Taxes in the gaming industry have gone up 2400%, a staggering 20 fold in just 9 years. No other industry or product faced similar punitive taxes measures. Already those clubs that pay their taxes are tottering in the recession. Most have got concessions from their landlords in order to stay in business. Staff have been kept but any increase in taxes will definitely result in unemployment.

The Association said that studies have shown in no uncertain terms that gaming has more exposure to tax increases than any other sector of the economy.

“ This predilection is reinforced by a widely held myth of casino super-profitability. Capital investment and tax rates are inversely related. As tax rates rise, capital investment falls. Invested capital creates jobs. As gaming privilege tax rates rise, gaming-related employment falls. High tax rates trade jobs for short-term government revenues”.

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