The government expects to collect $50 million from gaming house operators in the upcoming fiscal year, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday.
According to the 2019/2020 budget, the government projected it would collect $16 million in gaming house taxes.
However, D’Aguilar, who has responsibility for the gaming industry, said, “What we had projected was collecting approximately $50 million from the gaming industry and the gaming industry was projected to pay under the old scenario, approximately $22 million.
“So, the gaming houses generate taxable revenue of approximately $200 million. You multiply that by 11 percent and you get $22 million. We projected to increase that to $50 million.
“We have since revised our numbers and we expect to generate approximately $35 million but we’ve introduced an additional tax which is the tax on winnings. We estimate that we will get $15 million from that to take us back to the $50 [million].
“Obviously, we have not done that before so we don’t know exactly how much would be generated from that but this is what the gaming operators estimate that this new winnings tax will generate so that is what we project.”
Speaking about the inconsistency with the budget, the minister said, “Now, when you look at the budget book there are wildly different numbers because as we transition from what we attempted to do to what we will do, a number of the gaming houses withheld payments but they recognized that in order to get their licenses they will have to pay that money up.”
During the budget communication last May, the government announced a sliding scale tax on gaming house revenues and a five percent stamp tax on deposits.
However, after widespread backlash from gaming operators who claimed that the new taxes would be detrimental to their businesses, and a lawsuit, the government agreed to delay the enforcement of those taxes.
In February, the government announced that it had reached an agreement with gaming house operators which would result in a collection of $35 million annually from the sliding scale tax on net taxable revenue and $15 million from a tax on winnings as a result of lottery bets.
In April, Attorney General Carl Bethel said the government was prepared to take gaming house operators to court over unpaid taxes.
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