By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE twin five percent levies on customer deposits and over-the-counter (OTC) lottery sales will take effect on September 1, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar, pictured, confirmed yesterday while at the same time acknowledging some gaming houses were still not ready for roll-out.
Speaking with reporters ahead of yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Mr D’Aguilar said: “When we consulted with the gaming houses, they said they were not ready. They were still not ready and we shifted the date to the first of September.
“We are trying to accommodate them, they said they simply were not ready to roll it out, they’re close but it would have been a muddled roll out, some of them were ready some of them were not, so we decided in the best interest of keeping everything fair and equal, that we would accommodate those that had not had an opportunity to roll it out to put it to the first of September. I was advised that that was the recommendation of the Gaming Board to the Ministry of Finance and they agreed.”
Gaming house operators have warned the new taxes will discourage many of its patrons from gambling, with FML Group of Companies CEO Craig Flowers suggesting it could lead to a loss of one third of the industry.
Once in force, patrons will pay the five percent levies on deposits and over-the-counter (ORTC) lottery sales. Christiansen Capital Advisors, in a study commissioned by The Bahamas Gaming House Operators Association (BGHOA), predicted the taxes would suck between $13.3m and $19.9m annually from the pockets of Bahamian gaming patrons and alter consumer behaviour.
The delay in implementing the taxes stem from the need to “re-certify” web shop systems and games.