Gaming Minister Obie Wilchcombe said Wednesday that the much anticipated gaming bill has experienced a number of delays and setbacks and has missed several deadlines once set for being introduced in the House of Assembly due to a number of major factors, he also revealed there is still no telling when the bill will be tabled as there is still more work to be done on the proposed legislation.
“Most of the work is finished now it’s just that were still back in forth with the web shop owners, we send them some information, they send back to us responding to us but we got the information from Grant Thornton already,” he said.
“There’s still more work to be done, more analytical work because we asked them to go over several years so we would get that information and it has to validated, and web shop owners would have to talk to their accountants, their lawyers and all the rest.”
Minister Wilchcombe explained that this report from Grant Thornton was needed to assist the government with framing public policy on taxing web shops.
“They’ve been doing the assessments for us for all of the web shops because the web shop owners have been asked to disclose, so they (Grant Thornton) would do an assessment for us to determine the number of games that they are engaged in, the earnings over the last six years or so, first to have an understanding of the earning power, helps us with the taxes, helps us with understanding comprehensively what the collective bodies have been earning in this country, it helps us with planning for the future, so they have been very cooperative, they’ve been working with us, Grant Thornton provided the preliminary report that we do have now, there’s just some more work to complete.”
Prime Minister Perry Christie recently revealed that the bill is riddled with issues and prior to that Mr. Wilchcombe stressed that the government would not rush the process as it must ensure that the bill is accepted by the local banks, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), web shop owners and Bahamians in general.
Meanwhile, as Bahamians await the tabling of the bill, Mr. Wilchcombe said after much consideration the government has decided to not tax Bahamians on their web shop winnings.
“We’ve had two exclusive thoughts, one is tax on the web shop earnings, one to have a general tax and the tax of Bahamians on their earnings, that is not an argument that was really received,” he said.
“It’s been raised but for the most part has not generated traction.”
Overall, Mr. Wilchcombe said he hopes to have the bill tabled in parliament after the constitutional amendments and Value Added Tax (VAT) debates.