St. Maarten Government to maintain pressure on casinos

POSTED: 12/20/12 5:15 PM

St. Maarten – Government still wants to generate at least 7.5 million guilders in revenue through fees on table games and machines in casinos despite the industry’s disapproval. Finance Minister Roland Tuitt met with the Casino Operators Association several times within the last two weeks and pronounced that agreements had been made to devise a strategy for the increase of fees. The association contradicted his pronouncements last Thursday.

“I had meetings with the association of the casino operators and we had come to certain agreements but from the newspaper articles from the casino operators those agreements were stated differently. As far as government is concerned you have to look at it in a broader sense,’ Tuitt said yesterday.

He highlighted two aspects of the casino industry that he says government is now considering; addiction and raising revenue. Since casinos do not pay turnover taxes but monthly fees of 50 thousand guilders for tables and 10 thousand guilders if they have slot machines, Tuitt said that number games are still exempted from any fees.

“When we look at this industry, we also look at the number games. So the number games will also be taxed during this operation.”

He explained that based on information received some casinos have reported that they receive an equal amount of tourists and local alike while others record 60 percent local visitors and 40 percent tourists. This he believes demonstrates that gambling addiction is on the rise. He indicated that casino controllers can only do so much but in the new tax structure provisions will be made to properly control the industry such as the Gaming Control Board. In terms of legislation to ensure that every business pays turnover tax including casinos, Tuitt said that it is up to parliamentarians to amend the existing laws on the gaming industry.

He however envisions the new tax structure ensuring more fair play.

“In the new tax structure expected to be developed in 2013 and implemented in 2014, all of these things will be taken into consideration. A study will be made of each branch that operates on the island so that based documentation we will come up with a new structure so that everyone who lives on and comes to the island will contribute to the tax system.”

 

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