Operators face "punitive" taxation measures in Trinidad and Tobago

By Manuel Marti
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has released its new tax plan, which will see in 2018 a double taxation for the majority of the businesses including the gambling sector.

Earlier this week, the Minister of Finance, Colum Imbert announced "major changes in policies" that will be strictly enforced due to the unusual times the country is going through. In addition, Imbert claimed that only a small percentage of gaming operators pay the current levies since international online gambling operations make up to US $200m per year in capital outflow from the islands.

The 2017-2018 fiscal budget will see electronic roulette and amusement machines in bars increase their fees up to $17,820 and $890, respectively. Moreover, lottery players will experience a 10% reduction in their winnings due to the taxation system.

Under the new budget, Trinidad and Tobago dedicated gaming halls will suffer an increase of 100% in their slots machines and gaming devices, while the import tax on electronic gaming machines will also rise from its current 20% to 40%.

Gaming table fees are also doubling, with the new rates depending on the type of game. For instance, roulette tables will pay 17,000 while Sip Sam tables up to 22,000.

Following this shocking move, the Trinidad and Tobago Members Club Association (TTMCA) quickly convened an emergency meeting earlier today to discuss the ‘punitive’ income taxes that have been imposed by the government.

The group has warned that thousands of people will be affected as some operators have completely shut down their businesses, while other have decided to downsize and retrench some employees.

Sherry Persad, TTMCA President said the new changes would have a "catastrophic and horrific" effect on the local industry, as she believes the gaming industry’s treatment was based on stereotypes and would result in the ultimate end to the sector.

“Sound the death knell for the Gaming Industry where hundreds of persons will, as a result, be unemployed. It is not the TTMCA’s intention to surrender to the Government’s long-held animosity towards the Gaming Industry,” Persad concluded.

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