In the past week, we have learned that VAT will increase and taxation on many industries, including but not limited to web shop gaming, will increase.
The previous government made web shop gaming legal against the stated will of the people as reflected in the referendum for that purpose.
The present government proposes to increase the taxation on web shop gaming from the initial rather low level to a more realistic level, and the web shops and their representatives are crying foul.
The defenders of web shop gaming are crying foul and draw comparisons with the taxation on hotel casinos and then other businesses. They have put forth the gross sales of a number of businesses but have not put forth their own gross sales figures.
The comparison between web shop gaming and hotel casino gaming (and any other business for that matter) is a false equivalence.
My objection to web shop gaming is not based on moral or religious, but rather societal grounds.
There is a valid reason why Bahamians should not be allowed to gamble in the hotels. I quite frankly would have no objection if Bahamians were required to own those casinos. The money made from those ventures comes from outside of the country and does not amount to a depletion of Bahamian household income. Web shop gaming draws money out of the local economy, most usually that of poor people, redistributes it to a few, who only a few years ago would be considered criminals for carrying on their illegal activities, but never punished, but rather rewarded and it results in families having less to spend on their necessaries and an increased dependence on the state for welfare (financial assistance), as well as assisting those addicted to gaming.
Have a look at the areas of the island where web shops abound, and it will become clear whose money is being taken. When you realize that they are only using our money it is difficult to be impressed by the demonstrations of charitable largesse by the web shop operators. Older people who are familiar with the social ills caused by the Hobby Horse Hall Race Track many years ago will attest to this.
If the only benefit that could be heralded from web shop gaming were the creation of jobs, then those would be some mighty expensive jobs, costing us both financially and societally. Surely, we are better than this!
As a citizen, I personally have no objection to the web shops being taxed out of existence. Obviously, their lawyers will have a different argument and I look forward to seeing it being litigated.
– Luther H. McDonald