Govt. to “go easy” on gaming operators

Govt. to “go easy” on gaming operators
Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Dionisio D'Aguilar.

For the first time in weeks, the government began showing the signs of leniency in its proposed tax regime which is scheduled to be introduced to gaming operators in the coming months.

Minister of Tourism & Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar, who also has responsibility for the gaming industry, revealed Thursday that government will be flexible with webshop taxes.

“I want to categorically say this government is populated with reasonable people,”D’Aguilar said.

“If this tax turns out to be too onerous and that, in turn, causes an undesirable outcome; we will adjust.”

His revelation came during his presentation on the budget debate in the Lower Chamber Thursday.

The government has been unwavering in its position on the new tax regime, but D’Aguilar’s comments Thursday sang a slightly different tune.

This represents a new twist in the war of words between the government and the gaming industry.

Tempers began flaring two weeks ago when the government presented its 2018/2019 fiscal budget which revealed that gaming operators could pay up to 50 per cent in taxes on their annual earnings.

The gaming industry claimed that it was being economically target and warned that it would not only affect their profit but would also lead to store closures and job losses.

D’Aguilar sought to remind gaming operators yesterday how good the Bahamas has been to them before they decide to downsize their operations.

“Bahamians have spent some $500 million in the gaming industry since 2017,” he revealed.

“Please, as you contemplate downsizing, remember that you’ve enjoyed many years of feast and if you must suffer from one year of famine in order to get to that sweet spot of the perfect level of taxation, we will remember any good deeds that you do.”

While the government has announced its willingness, in special and select cases, to adjust its gaming tax layout, D’Aguilar warned gaming operators that they will experience some profit loss during the initial stages of the tax roll-out.

“As the gaming house operators adjust their business model to accommodate this tax, they will quickly bounce back,” he assured.

He confirmed that government is prepared to ensure that the industry is treated fairly.

“Every year we are in office, we will look closely at this industry and ensure the Bahamian people are getting their fair share,” he said.