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Betting Shops New Levy Scrapped

Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis.

Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

ECONOMIC Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis said the government will do away with a patron tax on lottery winnings, although the levy was never implemented on gaming houses.

The previous Minnis administration had announced in 2018 that on July 1 of that year the industry’s patrons would foot a five percent tax on deposits and winnings. However, it faced repeated delays because of a number of issues among them, especially web shop operators and patrons challenging the implementation in court.

 “That patron tax as far as I know had not come into effect and so we decided that we will do away with it,” Mr Halkitis told reporters before heading to a Cabinet meeting yesterday.

 “As you know it had been the source of legal action as well as a lot of debate, so we decided we’ll just do away with it.

 “The gaming industry, if you look at it in terms of their taxation not only versus casinos but versus other businesses, is very, very heavily taxed and so we believe that it’s just better to do away with it.”

 Yesterday, FML Group of Companies owner Craig Flowers praised the move as a “good thing” to ensure the industry could grow.

 Mr Flowers said a conversation needed to be had between the government and operators with a view to coming up with new ways to earn revenue from gaming houses.

 Mr Flowers for years maintained that a patron tax would be detrimental to his operations as it was more than 75 percent lottery based and about 25 percent focused on slots.

 Other gaming houses, in contrast, are about 75 percent focused on slots and 25 percent lottery focused.

 In addition, he believed there should have been continued discussions with operators with a mutual decision on the way forward. However, he said while there were meetings, he opted not to attend because he did not like the direction those talks took.

 “I excluded myself from several of those meetings because I personally did not like the tone and the direction it was heading in,” Mr Flowers said in an interview yesterday. “So, to hear today that the present government chooses to not entertain the patron’s tax was a good thing because I don’t think that it intended to promote or to elevate or to encourage the industry to develop or to grow.

  “It was designed to retard the industry and certainly to go to the player after they would have won to ask them to pay on their winnings and also tax when the players lose it was taxing the patrons twice.

 “The government is taking large volumes of our revenue now from what the patrons would have lost whatever the losses are from the patrons, we the operators receive that. We pay a tax on those revenue which is the NGR – the net generated revenue – we pay a tax to government on the patrons losing funds and then to turn around and say I am going back to the patrons again a second time to collect a second tax when they win will be a detriment the industry, but they couldn’t see it.

 “They made the argument that ‘well you pay winning taxes on the Florida lottery and the other large lottery industry’ but the patrons are not taxed twice in that case. The patrons buy a dollar ticket, the patrons leave with a dollar ticket. Now when they do win, yes there is a tax but that is an income tax that is being applied.”

 He continued: “It just didn’t add up that it made good sense. It was to me a dagger in the industry to either retard it to slow it down or to restrict it and I did not feel comfortable having a conversation even though I knew it was a losing argument for me, but they were the points which I raised at several meetings attended during the time of the introduction of this.

 “I felt strongly that it was pointed against my company particularly because we were the forerunners of the lottery base and not so much the slots. Our company was more than 75 percent lottery and 25 percent slots when other companies were more than 75 percent slots and 25 percent lottery and when you are going to apply a tax that tax is then being applied only to the lottery base so I thought it seemed to be pointed more toward me or FML than anyone else.

 “So, for those reasons I opposed and I made that clear during the time. But today to hear that the present government sees fit not to tax the patrons twice is a good thing. It’s a good thing for the industry. I think it will certainly benefit the industry in that context.

 “The industry will now continue with its ability to grow and to expand. I think that all companies will feel elated to hear that the minister has said this.”

 Moving forward, Mr Flowers wants the new government to have dialogue with the operators to discuss unexplored ways to raise funds from web shops.

 “There are lots of ways that can be discussed with us that can work in harmony for the government to generate more revenue and I think that is what this whole thing is about. It’s not about the patrons or the operators.

 “It’s about how the government can generate more revenue from the industry itself by virtue of raising more funds for government from the industry and that I think should be the conversation to be had,” Mr Flowers said yesterday.

 The tax was supposed to place a five percent levy paid by patrons on winnings up to $1,000, and 7.5 percent on anything greater than $1,000. It was projected to generate between $10m-$15m annually in extra revenue for the Public Treasury.

Comments

joeblow 4 months, 2 weeks ago

... so the government makes Bahamians pay 10% VAT for breadbasket items but scraps a tax on number houses who economically rape those who will struggle to pay the breadbasket VAT? Makes sense to me!

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One 4 months, 2 weeks ago

There should've been a revolution when the people voted NO to legalization but the Government did it anyway. It was blatant evidence of the lie that we live in a democracy.

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carltonr61 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Yea it is funny also that those same people who hate VAT tax delight in spending 3/4 of their income gambling as an income for gov revenue. The gov never followed its own Gaming Act to protect the Bahamian people from dangerous gaming harms. Which is criminal. Some of gov and Gaming Houses profits as is done in the rest of the world goes toward gambling harms reduction and education. But in the Bahamas we are not a part of the world. Gov spends twice as much in social welfare taking care of gamblers uncontrolled behavior that lands them in poverty than taxes received from Gaming Houses.

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bahamianson 4 months, 2 weeks ago

What about the rich paying their "fair share" ? Web shops are most certainly rich. Is that just the other rich ? Just asking for a friend.

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Sickened 4 months, 2 weeks ago

"The patrons buy a dollar ticket, the patrons leave with a dollar ticket. Now when they do win, yes there is a tax but that is an income tax that is being applied.”

Stupid argument. When webshop patrons put 1 dollar in the slot machine the patron sees a credit of 1 dollar. Casinos around the world get taxed at the gaming level. Patrons get taxed on any winnings.

This PLP decision to make money for the 5 numbers criminals and for their own back pockets will be their downfall. They need to call an early election so that we can get this money sucking scum out of office before they do too much damage!

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tribanon 4 months, 2 weeks ago

ECONOMIC Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis said the government will do away with a patron tax on lottery winnings, although the levy was never implemented on gaming houses.

True to his deceiful character, Halkitis conveniently omits mentioning that it was all along intended the patron tax on gambling winnings would be withheld by the gaming houses and remitted to The Public Treasury.

Thanks to the likes of Alfred Sears, low-life thugs like Sebas Bastian and Craig Flowers have been allowed to build financial empires off of the laundered ill-gotten gains from their corrupt gaming webshops. These thugs should be taxed to death, but instead they now tell Davis and fellow cabinet ministers what they can and cannot do simply by showing them with "goodies" of one kind or another.

The enormous mis-allocations of limited capital and resources as a result of the corrupt activities of these low-life numbers bosses has taken a huge toll on the development of social and economic policies that would benefit most Bahamians. And of course the number of gambling addicts in our country continues to soar and take its own very serious toll on our society as a whole. How Alfred Sears can look at himself in the mirror whenever he shaves his face is beyond my comprehension.

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tribanon 4 months, 2 weeks ago

"showing" in last sentence of third para s/b "showering"

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bahamianson 4 months, 2 weeks ago

In regards to the hotel sale in grand Bahama, Davis said whatever the people want , he will do. That statement is in stark contrast to what the people voted for years agk in regards to the numbers boys. We voted to shut them down. The government went against what the people wanted and made them legal. So, yet again, he is saying he will do what the people wants.

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TalRussell 4 months, 2 weeks ago

First comes de Juice Offerings aka Curry Political Favours , Then comes de Swearing-in at Cable Beach -, Then Minister Michael Halkitis appears with a Baby Carriage and everything else like this and that, that when expectation soon passes as returnin' back to de governances norm, ― Yes?

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carltonr61 4 months, 2 weeks ago

There was 500% high hope that a doctor becoming PM he would have corrected on the international path Gambling Best Practices that gambling is ranked DSM-5 WHO/PAHO or ICD. Taxes revenue, Public Responsibility, Harms and Health Policy areas are all a part of International Gambling Best Practices. Neither of them were rolled out at Gambling Legalization. Greed took precedence. Persons with Certifications in Gambling and Marijuana Heslth policies saw greed above Marijuana Best Practices as rolled out by the former government.

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birdiestrachan 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Truth be told people lose more often than they win. Why should they be taxed on the few times they win. when they have lost so much,

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birdiestrachan 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Many people believe gambling is great fun. I may disagree but it is their money,

The numbers business is not new. Government receives money in taxes. If they are closed down they will go underground where they have always existed.

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Proguing 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The majority of people voted against gambling. Why did the PLP not listen to the people's voice?

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carltonr61 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Look up the word Anandermide. Some of us may not be doctors but we are certifified in the cannabinoid system. Sugar and chocolate rules human pleasures but so does gambling/cocaine as most destructive to community,family and finances. Only the Bahamas government are not aware of this.

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tribanon 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Gambling addiction is rampant throughout the Bahamas today thanks in large part to the numbers rackets being run in web shops and online by criminal racketeering thugs like Sebas Bastian and Craig Flowers. And our country is paying an ever growing dear price for the many social-ills and violent crimes that so often afflict societies in which gambling addiction is a most serious problem.

Davis needs 'a light bulb moment' (an epiphany) in which he realizes the gambling enterprises operated by undesirable thugs like of Sebas Bastian and Craig Flowers either need to be put out of business by legislation or taxed out of business (taxed to death). And to think Alfred Sears endears himself and partners with people like Bastian and Flowers. This is why Sears was appointed Minister of Works and Utilities....to facilitate the real estate development (money laundering) interests of Sebas Bastian.

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