Trinidad and Tobago’s Temporary Gambling Tax May Become Permanent if Opposition Grows

The Trinidad and Tobago Finance Minister, Colm Imbert, said on Friday that the temporary taxation regime on gambling could become permanent, if the Opposition continues throwing criticism at the proposed regulation of the nation’s gambling industry. The Minster spoke during the Friday motion for the conformation of the tax measure.

The Provisional Collection of Taxes Order was proposed as an interim measure while the Trinidad and Tobago government is crafting what would be the nation’s new gambling law. Minister Imbert told local media that taxes could become a permanent means for the collection of revenue from clubs that feature gambling machines, in case opposition against the proposed regulation of gambling continues growing.

Opponents of the new tax have previously pointed out that it will have quite a negative impact on the business of club owners around the nation, as some of the facilities do not produce that much revenue.

Gambling operations will be taxed temporarily until the recently proposed Gaming and Betting Control Bill 2017 is under consideration by lawmakers. In general, the legislative piece will regulate the nation’s gambling industry in a bid to prevent money laundering and other illicit money outflows as well as to protect residents, particularly children and other vulnerable people, from falling victims to gambling addiction. The bill is set to be presented to the Joint Select Committee in the coming weeks.

During earlier discussions about the Provisional Collection of Taxes Order, the Ministry of Finance said that there were more than 5,000 bars around the nation that were equipped with amusement games as well as with gambling machines. Under previous proposals, amusement games were, too, to be taxed, but that particular measure was scrapped due to large opposition.

Problem Gambling in Trinidad and Tobago

During Friday’s motion, the Trinidad and Tobago Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, cited problem gambling figures from a report of the National Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Programme, disclosing that 49 people with gambling addiction or problem gambling behavior have sought help and treatment from a self-help group since the beginning of the year. The Minister explained that there are a number of such groups and treatment centers around the country and that for every single person who came forward there probably were 100 who decided against exposing themselves as gambling addicts.

Mr. Deyalsingh went on to say that 23 other people have contacted that same group via telephone and that two of them have revealed that they had attempted suicide in relation to their gambling problems. Men aged between 25 and 38 were the predominant group seeking help. There were also 11 women aged between 24 and 45 who asked for treatment of their gambling addiction.

One of the measures proposed in the gambling bill involved the creation of a self-exclusion system that would allow gambling customers ban themselves from gambling in case they begin showing symptoms of problem behavior or addiction.

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