29th May 2018
Contact: Gershan A. Major – 457-0420 (m)
The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association (BGOA), is again having to rigorously defend the domestic gaming industry, which it represents from what it could only characterize as highly partisan voices of support for a “colour tax, on the industry.”
Mr. Myers was quoted in the Business Section of the Tribune dated 29th May 2018, headlined “Budget demand for more web shop taxes as a fix,” by saying that, “They (domestic gaming industry) have exceptionally high margins, and got away with murder. The people said no, the then government forced it to say yes, and they should be taxed more or we put in a National Lottery…”
We consider the comments attributed to Mr. Myers – Principal of the Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG), with respect to the domestic gaming industry, to be very disparaging. Mr. Myers must not have been living in The Bahamas for the past fifty (50) years, where a select few, whom he himself is familiar, and have been part of the merchant class have been price makers and the masses of Bahamians have been the price
takers. This is what we would consider as “getting away with murder.”Mr. Myers should be the last person to utter statements of opinion on what the Government should or should not do in relations to taxes in general and as it relates to the domestic gaming industry, in particular. This is the same Robert Myers, who in October 2014, had to step down as Chairman of The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation amidst allegations that he submitted false customs brokerage documents to avoid paying the correct amount of taxes for importing his Porsche SUV. This same Robert Myers, who eventually had to pay a fine for such an infraction, which in itself under the laws of The Bahamas, meant he was found wanting. He now has the authority to lecture the Government on how it should tax the domestic gaming industry, when he himself was found negligent in wanting to pay his fair share of taxes in a matter a minor as the importation of a vehicle, where he is of the income bracket to do so.
One would expect that an organization such as ORG, which he represents as a Principal, should seek to consult with the domestic gaming sector to better understand the facts before making such nonsensical public statements.
If Mr. Myers was as informed as he purports, he should also be aware that his own organization’s leadership met with the CEO of the BGOA, just earlier this month, to have exploratory discussions around potential collaboration on matters related to National educational initiative improvements in The Bahamas.
I would like to know what makes Mr. Myers believe that he has the credibility or knowledge to speak on the business model of the domestic gaming industry, relative to the type of margins enjoyed. If Mr. Myers is suggesting that businesses be levied a tax increase based on profitability
margins, then one would think that the same should not be limited to the domestic gaming industry but in fact across all sectors, to avoid the
perception of discrimination of one or more sector(s) against another.Facts – the domestic gaming industry already pays more than its fair share
of taxes at 11% or 25% of EBITDA, whichever is greater, coupled with millions in fees for its locations, franchises, hiring of Bahamians and 7.5% in VAT on all of its procurement of products and services, without being able to claim. As an aggregate percentage of taxes and fees, the domestic gaming industry pays in excess of 21%.
Like any other industry, we welcome paying our fair share of any potential tax increases, provided other sectors are asked to do likewise. It cannot
continue to be a matter of economic profiling. We cannot be summarily singled out and other similar progressive sectors be left untouched. We
cannot continue to experience punitive increase in taxes based on the same colonial paradigm that suggests, young black wealth should have a different standard than other colour forms of wealth in this country, especially when the current economic model suggests that there ought not to be such wealth even attempted much less achieved. What is good for the goose must be good for the gander.
Mr. Myers touts educational advancement, which we support and continue to do so to the tone of hundreds of thousands of dollars, through the various licensees’ foundations and the industry’s corporate and social responsibility programs, like the five ($500) hundred thousand dollar endowment to the University of The Bahamas over the next ten (10) years, just to name one.
It may be instructive for Mr. Myers to establish his own foundation and actually follow our real investment model in supporting education in The Bahamas, and leave the posturing alone. I would also encourage him to learn to consult with us to avoid making such salacious and uniformed public statements.
However, we do welcome a broad based consultative dialogue on the current macro-economic model of The Bahamas in general and the creation of a more fair and equitable tax policy, relative all business sectors, particularly the domestic gaming industry.The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association (BGOA) is a non-profit organization that represents the licensees of the domestic gaming industry. Its objectives are to promote awareness and education of the industry and to advocate for fair and equitable public policy, regulation and legislation, based on factual data and research. The Association also exists to ensure the continued innovation and sustainability of the domestic gaming industry for the benefit of all of its stakeholders. It will also consistently promote responsible gaming, as part of its broader community building initiatives and overall contribution to the economy of The Bahamas.