Trinidad and Tobago’s new tax-heavy plan affected the gaming industry after six of the country’s casinos decided to suspend operations and all the casino workers lost their jobs. This Monday, Trinidad and Tobago’s Finance MinisterColm Imbert introduced the new budget plan for the next fiscal year. According to it, the taxes imposed on land-based casinos are to double by the beginning of the next year. And if there are a few factors, that determine a market’s attractiveness, taxation is the most important of all.
Following the announcement of the higher tax rates on land-based casino operations, expected to come into effect in January 2018, many gambling operators started to express their discontent. Six small local casinos already announced their decision to shut doors, as the new tax rates will leave them threadbare. This resulted in many people losing their jobs. Apart from these six small casinos, other international big gambling operators also warned the country’s officials that they will exit the country’s market providing that the government does not reverse its decision.
The new tax system may appear to be much less successful than anticipated. Experts warn that it may not produce the desired effect of gambling operators generating additional tax revenue. It can be even said that the country’s gambling market is to significantly decline, because many operators will rush through the door in the wake of the new tax system.
Apart from the damaged gambling industry, many people will lose their jobs.It was reported that there are more than 9,000 people, who are directly hired. These are usually people, who are in an urgent need of a job. It was also explained that a prosperous casino industry also boosts the small- and middle-sized business. Union of Members’ Clubs and Lottery Workers (UMCLW) vice president Sean Clarke even noted that over 30,000 people are indirectly hired in the gaming industry, including taxi drivers, decorators, caterers, security personnel and others. Many of the casino employees also expressed their discontent triggered by the new tax plan.
In an interview with T&T Guardian, T&T Members Club Association (TTMCA) president Sherry Persad explained that the union will not let the gambling industry to go to the bad and it is to respond to the government’s decision in a lawful manner. The global gambling industry has witnessed similar scenarios of countries imposing too high taxes or regulations. Such actions have produced the same effect – reputable operators suspending operations.
Trinidad and Tobago’s New Tax System
As aforementioned, the new tax system was introduced by Trinidad and Tobago’s Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday this week. In case that the lawmakers approve the plan, it is to impose a 10% tax on players’ lottery winnings. Apart from that, operators will be obliged to pay a flat fee of TTD 120k (US $17,820) on each electronic roulette machine in public places, while all other electronic gambling machines will be imposed a fee of TTD 6k ($891) per unit. The gaming halls across the country will pay an annual slot machine fee worth TTD 24k. The fees on gambling tables will also double along with the import tax on electronic gambling machines. The sharp tax decrease is triggered by the economic crisis, which the country experiences at present.