Web shop operators want to introduce a tax on the winnings of patrons, instead of the five percent stamp tax proposed by the government, attorney Wayne Munroe said yesterday.
Munroe, who represents three gaming house operators, said this tax would be applied only if and when patrons win.
“We have advocated from the beginning for a winning tax,” he said.
“Instead of the customer paying when they make a deposit or when they place a bet, they pay a tax when and if they win.”
The government’s proposed stamp tax would be levied once patrons deposit funds onto their gaming accounts.
Munroe said, “If you pay a tax when you bet, when you lose [the bet], you’ve lost twice.”
He noted that a tax on winnings would be more “palatable” for customers.
Munroe said he believes the government is beginning to see this matter from their point of view.
Last year the government announced a sliding scale tax and patron’s tax on the web shop industry, but web shop bosses took the government to court over the matter.
Attorney Alfred Sears, who represents Playtech Systems (Island Luck), along with Munroe, met with Attorney General Carl Bethel last year in an attempt to reach an agreement over the taxes.
On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said the government has lost up to $30 million in projected revenue due to the delayed implementation of gaming taxes.
Munroe said he is unmoved by Turnquest’s comments and they do not affect negotiations.
“We are engaged in talks,” he said.
“We have had two meetings with the attorney general and his legal professionals. We are scheduled to have a meeting on Thursday with the technical officers in the Office of the Attorney General.”
When asked about his clients’ position on the loss of projected revenue, Munroe questioned whether the government has considered the loss in revenue that would result from the shutdown of three or four gaming operators due to exorbitant taxation.
He noted that the loss of National Insurance Board (NIB) and National Health Insurance (NHI) payments from staff members who would become unemployed, and the loss of VAT collected on operational expenses would be significant.
“I don’t know if he is trying to say [gaming operators] have an issue with paying taxes, because they don’t,” he said.
Turnquest said on Friday, during a presentation to Treasury Department personnel, that he was disappointed with the gaming industry and the “stance that it is taking”.
As noted, gaming operators filed a suit in the Supreme Court seeking leave for judicial review and an injunction against the government’s stamp tax on gaming patrons and the sliding-scale tax.
Following the application, the government agreed not to impose the taxes, and instead sought to engage in discussions with gaming house operators to resolve the dispute.
Munroe said his clients hope “that they can arrive at an accommodation so that they can go back to doing their business… and to look after the interests of not only themselves, but their staff and the third-party vendors”.