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Tax impact study still incomplete

Dionisio D’Aguilar.

A study into a new tax structure for the gaming industry that was supposed to be finished last summer, will be completed by the end of the month, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday.

After the government announced the new tax structure during the 2018/2019 budget, it saw widespread backlash from gaming operators who claimed that the new scheme would cause a significant detrimental effect on their businesses.

D’Aguilar, who has responsibility for gaming, said the government decided to undertake a study to see whether those allegations were true.

He noted in July that the study would take four to six weeks to be completed.

When asked yesterday when the study will be completed, D’Aguilar said, “By the end of January 2019.”

He did not say who is conducting the study or how much it is costing the government.

When pressed for details, D’Aguilar said, “When it’s done, we’ll reveal it all at once.”

D’Aguilar has said that the results of that study will not cause the government to change course.

Gaming Board Chairman Kenyatta Gibson said yesterday he was unable to provide any details because he did not “have that information in front of him.”

In May, the government announced that gaming patrons will see a five percent stamp tax applied on deposits and any non-online games or digital sales. However, the patron tax has been delayed several times since then.

In August, when questioned why the study is being undertaken if the government doesn’t intend to change its mind, D’Aguilar said that a change may be possible in the next fiscal year.

“The people that operate these gaming houses we all know are making a lot of money and the government feels that it must get its fair share and even if it needs to be tweaked, we’ll tweak it, but certainly not in the upcoming year,” D’Aguilar said.