Gaming houses set to meet govt. attorneys today

Attorney General, Senator Carl Bethel.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Office of the Attorney General and the attorneys who represent gaming house operators will meet today over the five per cent stamp tax and sliding scale of taxes the government intends to impose on gaming houses.

Attorney General Carl Bethel confirmed that a meeting scheduled for last week was rescheduled at the request of gaming house operators.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest tabled the Stamp (Gaming Patrons) Rules, 2018, in the House of Assembly last Wednesday.

The rules set out how gaming house operators should charge and collect the five per cent stamp tax.

According to the rules, gaming houses will be required to collect stamp tax duty when a patron makes a deposit on their account; on the account of any other person; or when a patron makes a payment for any gaming activity not conducted through the account, whether electronically, via the internet or over the counter.

The rules state that every gaming house operator shall pay to the treasurer the collected stamp tax by the tenth calendar day of the following month.

Each gaming house operator must also produce a monthly report, detailing the number of transactions, all deposits made to a patron’s account, gaming activity sales and the number of voided transactions.

“No stamp duty shall be refunded by a gaming house operator to a patron, except where the transaction to which the stamp duty relates is voided due to an error that is made by the gaming house operator,” the rules note.

If the stamp tax on gaming activity results in a fraction of cent, the gaming house ought to round the figure, the rules state.

In cases where the calculation of the tax results in point five per cent of higher, the gaming house operators should round up; and in cases where the tax is below point five of a cent, they should round down to the nearest cent, according to the rules.

A breach of the rules or reporting requirements can result if a $5,000 fine.

The rules also stipulate that the minister can appoint an auditor at any time, at the expense of the gaming houses, to examine their records.

The government announced in May that a five per cent stamp tax would be applied to all gaming patron’s deposits, all non-online games and digital sales.

It also announced a sliding scale tax on the gaming sector.

The taxes were originally set to take effect on July 1, but both have been delayed.

In August, gaming house operators filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking leave for judicial review and an injunction of the government’s proposed stamp tax on its patrons and the sliding scale gaming tax.

The move prompted the government to avert imposing the taxes, and instead, seek to have further discussions with gaming house operators to come to an agreement on the way forward.

Of the Gaming Patrons Rules, Attorney Wayne Munroe, who represents Island Game and Paradise Games, questioned whether the government was operating in good faith.

He said government decided to move ahead despite there being no progress in resolving the gaming sector’s concerns and without meeting with him or attorney Alfred Sears, who represents Island Luck.

However, Munroe said he will approach Monday’s meeting with an open mind.

According to the government, the delay in collecting these taxes represents a more than $8 million loss.

The government projected earlier this year that it will collect $70 million in gaming taxes this fiscal year.

There are seven licensed gaming house operators in the country.

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