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Govt open to tax on web shop winnings

Dionisio D’Aguilar.

Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday the government is “prepared to revisit” the idea of introducing a tax on the winnings of gaming patrons.

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.

On Sunday, Wayne Munroe, who represents three gaming house operators, said a tax should only be applied if and when patrons win.

When asked if the government was open to introducing a tax on the winnings of patrons, D’Aguilar said, “…We considered it on the onset and were supportive of a tax on the winnings and we will be prepared to revisit it again. The problem with the tax on winnings, what we found was that it was kind of complicated to compute and then the question was: what do you tax?”

He added: “We would have to look at the tax on winnings, on the lotto probably as the easiest mechanism to tax winnings. That is an option and it’s something that we did consider but agonized over the complexity of calculating the tax and that is why we initially settled on the patron tax which I know they are very much against. It would probably be fair to tax winnings and maybe we need to revisit that.”

Munroe said a tax on winnings would be more “palatable” for customers.

“If you pay a tax when you bet, when you lose [the bet], you’ve lost twice,” Munroe said.

He added: “We have advocated from the beginning for a winnings tax.”

D’Aguilar, who has responsibility for gaming, said taxing the winnings of computerized games would be difficult because it’s harder to define winnings on that platform.

He said a tax on online games would not be “extremely viable”.

“…When Mr. Munroe opines on a tax on winnings I think he’s saying tax [the] winnings on the lotto portion and not on the online gaming,” he said.

D’Aguilar said the government is “prepared to listen and to contemplate the validity” of some of the arguments of web shop operators.

He said, “…If the government perceives that a tax on winnings is something that’s measurable and collectable, we would consider it. Then, obviously, we have to determine the yield it would produce so those are all the things that would have to go into the pot to make that decision.”

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.