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‘Casino owners wicked to send home staff’

Published: 
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Imbert discloses $M profits in gaming industry
Finance Minister Colm Imbert, during yesterday’s sitting of Parliament.

Casino owners should not be threatening to retrench their workers since one roulette table alone can generate $500,000 to $1 M in annual profits for them, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said yesterday.

“Roulette tables are Play Whe on steroids — money spinners,” Imbert said in Parliament yesterday.

“Why in God’s name do they want to send home workers when they make over $500,000 profit annually for each table? It’s wickedness. They’re terrorising workers,” he said.

Speaking on the Provisional Collection of Taxes Order—implementing taxes from the 2018 Budget–Imbert added, “Firing workers has to be just talk. If they retrench them, they’ll have to bring them back because the machines can’t operate on their own—they’re not robots. And all the (owners’) money is generated by these roulette tables.”

Among tax order stipulations are gaming sector tax increases, effective January 1, next year. Taxes on roulette tables will be $120,000 annually compared to the half million plus profits which such tables yield each year, he said.

Imbert said the gaming sector was booming and it was necessary to regulate it so taxpayers could get a share of the $15 B industry. Only $58 M was collected in taxes previously.

He said after he was “visited” at his residence by casino workers recently, he received information that electronic roulette tables permitting 20 players to wager every 20 seconds are in bars and restaurants.

“Three times a minute a ball drops into a slot – 365 days,” he said.

If true, Imbert added, a roulette machine operated on two 12-hour shifts can generate $500,000 to $1 M in annual profit after workers’ wages—around $150,000 annually—overhead expenses and taxes are deducted.

“So why in God’s name do they want to send people home when the taxes we propose are only $120,000? Why do you want to retrench workers who are helping you earn over $500,000 a year?” he asked.

He said that tax will yield $84 M with full compliance. Imbert added, there are also more than 20,000 amusement gaming machine in T&T. Taxes for that which were $3,000 annually will increase to $6,000.

Imbert revealed that the Board of Inland Revenue has a total of 900 members’ clubs, bars and recreation clubs with gaming tables registered. But he said only 97 are registered with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) which monitors such facilities.

“It means about 800 of them aren’t being monitored by the FIU,” he said.

Imbert rebutted claims by “Member’s Club” owners. He said it was “fiction” for them to claim the clubs weren’t casinos and that they were owned by members.

Imbert cited a 2013 Nevada University study showing (US)$14 B in earnings from Las Vegas from the sector and gambling studies showing this was addictive and people went into a trance-like “zone” shutting out life when gambling.