BGOA stunned at gaming house tax hike

BGOA stunned at gaming house tax hike
The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association Board of Directors at a courtesy call with Governor General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling at Government House. Pictured from left: Anton Roker; Leander Brice; Sebas Bastian, Chairman; H.E. Dame Marguerite Pindling; Gershan Major (CEO); Pete Deveaux and Garvin Newball.

The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association (BGOA) said it is stunned and appalled by the government’s budget communication Wednesday, as it announced drastic increases in taxes for operators in the domestic gaming industry.

“It represents a very unfortunate day in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, to see a government blatantly discriminate against one industry versus another,” said the head of the BGOA Gershan Major.

“It is equally unfortunate to fathom the level of increase in taxes levied on the industry and now its patrons, which could only be aimed at crippling the domestic gaming industry.

“It is further disappointing that in today’s Bahamas, an entire industry can be singled-out and in our view, racially targeted for an increase in government taxes.

“This is hardly what you would expect in a free-market economy where persons are now being targeted because they run an efficient and profitable business.”

Major continued, “What concerns us more, is that this is being done at a time when, as far as any honest observer can see, the same level of scrutiny and examination was not done to other industries that are not predominantly black owned.

“It’s one thing to worry that your government can wake up on Monday morning and say I want to arbitrarily raise your taxes without a single thought to how that will impact the sustainability of your business.

“It’s totally another thing to expect that this will be done because you do not belong to a certain political or social class, or that you have the wrong color of skin. We do not see the government taking aim at the liquor or construction industries.

“We don’t see them targeting the commercial banks, food-stores or port operators. So why is it that the gaming sector should see such a drastic increase in taxes?”

Major said the BGOA is of the view that in 2018, the country would have been beyond “this kind of economic oppression, but it appears that we still have a long way to go.”

The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association (BGOA) is a non-profit organization that represents the licensees of the domestic gaming industry.