President of the Trinidad and Tobago Members Club Association (TTMCA), Sherry Persad has announced that some casinos have decided to immediately close their doors as a result of the new tax measures introduced in the 2018 Budget.
Persad said the decision came at a meeting held at 1pm today to discuss the measures.
They are also calling on the Opposition to withhold support for the Gambling Bill.
Persad issued the following statement after today's meeting:
"The TTMCA convened an emergency meeting today at 1pm to discuss the punitive income taxes that have been unilaterally imposed upon the Gaming Industry by the Minister of Finance in the 2017/2018 Budget.
After an intense discussion the following items were agreed upon:
· Letters requesting an urgent meeting with the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister to discuss the Taxes and their implications on the Industry.
· Letters to the Joint Select Committee requesting to be reheard on the issues of the proposed legislation and taxation measures given the new taxes in the Budget.
· Letter to the Leader of the Opposition requesting that the Opposition withhold its required support for the Gambling Bill (2016) pending a comprehensive review of the Taxes announced in the 2017/18 Budget.
· International Casino operators indicated that if there is no change in the tax they will consider pulling out of Trinidad and Tobago
· An immediate downsizing of some large local casino operators present, with the immediate corresponding reduction in staffing requirements.
· An announcement by some small operators present of immediate closure and termination of all staff.
· Discussions with attorneys at law on the legal options to challenge the unfair taxes given the recent precedent in Kenya, Australia and the UK.
· Begin discussions with the Union of Lottery and Casino Workers the staffing implications of the taxes and provide counselling support where possible.
The highly repressive taxes announced by the Minister of Finance without any basis in facts and handcuffed to stereotypes, sound the death knell for the Gaming Industry where hundreds of persons will as a result be unemployed. It is not the TTMCA intention to surrender to the Government long-held animosity towards the Gaming Industry."