BGOA: Three gaming operators have paid all outstanding taxes

Bahamas Gaming Operators Association President, Gershon Major.

Major says this represents 70% of the operator taxes due to govt.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Gershon Major, President of The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association (BGOA), sought to set the record straight on Wednesday as it relates to recent comments made by Minister of Finance K. Peter Turnquest.

The minister told the media on Tuesday that, “there are two gaming houses – one that is completely compliant, the other partially compliant and there are some that are not compliant…”

His comments came before heading to Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

But yesterday, Major said the BGOA wanted to unequivocally refute those statements as wholly inaccurate.

“Currently, there are three operators that have paid all of their outstanding taxes, which represents 70% of the operator taxes due to the Government. Therefore, the Government has collected the majority of the outstanding operator taxes due for the 2018-2019 fiscal year,” Major said.

“We are uncertain as to why the Minister of Finance would make such a public statement, that he knows or ought to know is demonstratively false.”

Effective January 1, 2019, all licensed gaming operators were expected to pay 15 per cent on $0 to $24 million dollars of revenue and operators earning anything greater than $24 million will pay 17.5 per cent.

Also, effective April 1, 2019, a new tax was introduced on all winnings derived from lottery bets.

Five per cent will be paid on winnings $0 to $1,000 and 7.5 per cent on anything greater than $1,000.

Major explained yesterday that as for a patron tax on lotto winnings – initially a tax on patron deposits – Gaming operators could not lawfully begin collecting these taxes on April 1, 2019 as the Government intended.

Major said to implement such a tax, operators’ systems must be modified, internationally tested, certified and approved by the Regulator—The Gaming Board for The Bahamas—as fit for purpose. He said not until this process is completed can the collection of patron taxes on lotto winnings commence.

“The Minister ought to be aware of this fact and to intimate that this component of the taxes is outstanding is misleading,” Major said.

He added that the BGOA has always maintained that the domestic gaming industry is willing to pay its fair share, and where there may be outstanding matters between some operators and the government, meaningful dialogue is on-going and he is hopeful that a resolution will be found in short order.

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