AG meets with web shop lawyers

Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday the government and lawyers representing several web shop operators are working toward an agreement regarding the government’s sliding scale tax and patron’s tax imposed on the industry.

However Bethel said “it isn’t likely that we will be able to prevent all legal action”.

Wayne Munroe, QC, who represents Island Game, ASureWin and Paradise Games, and Alfred Sears, QC, who represents Island Luck, met with Bethel and his team of senior technical advisors from the Office of the Attorney General.

“We made some progress,” Munroe said.

“We have to get back to the attorney general, but it wasn’t as pointless as I thought. We discussed the operators’ tax and the stamp tax. Both sides put their positions on the table.

“We have worked out a proposed framework of action while we test the legality of the operators’ tax.”

Munroe said it is a given that his clients will continue their court action against the government.

“We had a frank exchange of the issues. Some things we resolved; others we did not.”

Munroe noted that while there is no commitment on another meeting, both sides will remain in dialogue.

“They will continue with their legislation program and at the appropriate time we will launch our court challenge,” Munroe said.

In August, web shop operators filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking leave for judicial review of the government’s stamp tax on gaming patrons and the sliding scale gaming tax. They also sought an injunction against the taxes.

Following the application, the government agreed not to impose the taxes but rather seek to have further discussions with gaming house operators in a bid to iron out areas in dispute.

The previous gaming tax was 11 percent of gaming house revenues.

The government also announced that it would tax gaming patrons through a five percent stamp tax applied on deposits and any non-online games or digital sales.

The patron tax was delayed several times.

Web shop operators have labeled the taxes discriminatory, unfair and wrong.

Gaming operators said the increase in taxes would cause them to lay off employees and shut down locations.

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018. Education: College of The Bahamas, English

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