BGOA rejects suggestion from Myers for gaming houses tax hike

BGOA rejects suggestion from Myers for gaming houses tax hike

Chester Robards

The Nassau Guardian

(May 30,2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS -The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association (BGOA) yesterday responded to statements made by an Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) executive calling on government to levy more taxes on the gaming houses to relieve the pressure on taxpayers.

The BGOA stated in a press release that ORG Chairman Robert Myers’ call for more taxes from the gaming industry is “partisan” support for a “color tax on the industry”.

Myers was quoted in The Tribune on Tuesday saying: “They (domestic gaming industry) have exceptionally high margins and got away with murder. The people said no, the then government forced it to say yes, and they should be taxed more or we put in a national lottery.”

The BGOA called Myers’ remarks about the industry disparaging and asserted that the historic merchant class of The Bahamas “have been price-makers, and the masses of Bahamians have been the price-takers” for the past 50 years.

“One would expect that an organization such as ORG, which he represents as a principal, should seek to consult with the domestic gaming sector to better understand the facts before making such nonsensical public statements,” the BGOA release stated.

“If Mr. Myers was as informed as he purports, he should also be aware that his own organization’s leadership met with the CEO of the BGOA, just earlier this month, to have exploratory discussions around potential collaboration on matters related to national educational initiative improvements in The Bahamas.

“If Mr. Myers is suggesting that businesses be levied a tax increase based on profitability margins, then one would think that the same should not be limited to the domestic gaming industry but in fact across all sectors, to avoid the perception of discrimination of one or more sector(s) against another.”

The BGOA explained that the local gaming industry already “pays 11 percent or 25 percent of EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) whichever is greater, coupled with millions in fees for its locations, franchises, hiring of Bahamians and 7.5 percent in VAT (value-added tax) on all of its procurement of products and services, without being able to claim”.

“As an aggregate percentage of taxes and fees, the domestic gaming industry pays in excess of 21 percent,” the BGOA pointed out.

The BGOA stated that it welcomes paying its taxes as long as the tax rate is equitable across the business community.

“It cannot continue to be a matter of economic profiling,” the BGOA noted.

“We cannot be summarily singled out and other similar progressive sectors be left untouched. We cannot continue to experience punitive increases in taxes based on the same colonial paradigm that suggests young black wealth should have a different standard than other colors’ forms of wealth in this country, especially when the current economic model suggests that there ought not to be such wealth even attempted, much less achieved. What is good for the goose must be good for the gander.”

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