Saying these were "unusual times which call for major changes in policies,” Imbert said the situation required "serious adjustment for all” and warned that the new measures "will be strictly enforced.”
The budget imposes a new 10% tax on players’ lottery winnings that will take effect on December 1. The National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) reported that it had enjoyed its highest ever profits in 2016.
Among the other changes is a flat fee of US$17,82 on each electronic roulette machine in local bars. Other amusement machines in bars will see their fees double to US$ 891.
As for the nation’s dedicated gaming halls, their annual slot machine fees are doubling to US$ 3,495 per unit, while other gaming devices will double to US$ 8,735. The import tax on electronic gaming machines will also rise from its current 20% to 40%.
The T&T Private Members’ Clubs Association was quick to respond to the budget announcement, issuing a statement saying the government had "singled out the gaming industry as one of the few areas of the national economy as a source of taxation revenue to bear the burden of the nation’s economic challenges.”
The group went on to warn that "thousands” of workers "will be affected by this inhumane increase” while questioning whether "the Ministers in their Ivory Towers” understood the full ramification of their actions.
Industry spokesperson Sherry Persad said the new changes would have a "catastrophic and horrific” effect on the local industry, and that many gaming operators would be forced to close their doors.”
Source: GMB / Calvin Ayre