Categorized | National News

No Talks Between Gov’t And Gaming Operators

The  legal  Counsel  for  TIG Investments,  Wayne Munroe QC,  said he has had no formal meetings with the government regarding the stamp tax and operator’s tax to be imposed on gaming houses since the  court hearing.

TIG Investments represents Island Games, Paradise Games and Asure Win.

According to Mr. Munroe,  their issue is that the government did not consult gaming operators before the tax was imposed. 

At the court hearing held on August 31st,  Supreme Court Justice Indra Charles recommended that the government and the  Web Shop Houses’   legal team are to discuss the merits of the case before the next hearing.

 “I have not had any formal meeting with the government since the court hearing when the process of sending them  correspondents to  resolve   some of the challenges that we see arising in the stamp duty regime.

“That will involve basically setting out to them practically the issues that we see, bearing in mind of course that in stamp duty you’re collecting tax for the government.  So there are certain things that has to happen that hasn’t happen yet,” he said. 

When it comes to the operator’s tax, Mr. Munroe’s issue is that the wording of the regulation is vague and that it would be for them to explain the regulation, which he stressed is yet to have happened.

“We haven’t had face to face meetings, they have not to date agreed on anyone of these issues,  so we’re going to be sending them correspondence  and we’ll see how they respond to that,” Mr. Munroe said.

He  said that since before the court case,  the government did not respond to any of the letters written to them to sit down and talk about the taxes. 

Up to now, even after the court case Mr. Munroe said that no response had been made to any letters of the outstanding letters or any communication after.

He said, “we’re going to follow up yet again, the judge can recommend that you talk,  but she can’t make you talk. We can ask to sit down and talk to you,  but we can’t make you talk to us.”

Mr. Munroe added that if the government decides to discuss the merits of the case with them,  considering that this is a complex issue, if all the issues are not dealt with they can be narrowed down.

Once discussion begins, Mr. Munroe said he is hoping the government will then begin to understand why no one else imposes stamp duties on gaming,  which he said is because it leaves his clients with what he termed an administrative headache.

“For instance,  you can buy a 10 cent number,  the stamp tax on that is point five or half a cent which isn’t a currency, so our issue is to either round up or round down. 

“If  you  round up,  you over tax the person,  so they’ve now told us to round down;  but I’m being told by my clients that persons will simply buy singularly 10 cent numbers 5 cent numbers, avoid the tax altogether while increasing the administrative burdens on my clients to sell tickets singularly. 

“Right now you would see someone with a long list of maybe 20 ten cent numbers and that  $2,  but now if they want to avoid a 5 per cent stamp tax,  they will buy each one of those numbers on an individual piece of paper with no stamp duty paid on it,” Mr. Munroe said.

Mr. Munroe said that even after the government work out how they decide what the percentage will be, he still says the tax is discriminatory and that you cannot discriminate based on origin. 

“ So whenever they define what the percentage is to be worked on, if they choose to act,  still as they have been doing discriminatorily between the gaming houses and the casino,  then there will be a challenge to that discriminatory practice,” he said. 

Attorney General Carl Bethel after the Supreme Court hearing on August 31st told reporters that the government is open to have these discussions with the gaming operator’s legal team. 

Both sides are set to return to court on October 5th.    



Written by Jones Bahamas

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