The Union of Members Clubs and Lottery Workers (UMCLW) is currently seeking an audience with Finance Minister Colm Imbert and Government representatives to convince them to change their minds about taxation on betting games in the gaming industry.
Newly-elected president of the UMCLW Sean Clarke yesterday told Newsday that in addition to seeking an audience with the minister because of the huge negative impact the imposition of the taxes will have on workers, the union with the support of the National Trade Union Centre, will hold a peaceful demonstration outside of the Parliament on Friday.
“In the past we have called on the Finance Minister to meet with us. He was never interested in meeting or hearing us,” he said.
Following the budget presentation on Friday, Clarke said that at least three small gaming houses in Curepe, Tunapuna and Penal, have announced that they will be folding up and sending home their employees as they cannot afford the taxes.
The gaming industry, he said, is not against Government increasing taxes, but not the “unscrupulous 100 per cent across the board. It will not only affect us but bar owners as well.”
Some of the international conglomerates, he said, would be looking to close shop as well, while others would have to downsize their staffing and operations immediately. Instead of targeting legal operators, Clarke said, Government should be clamping down on illegal operators including Chinese illegal gaming machines mushrooming all over the place. “The Chinese are running these illegal betting shops. They are opening them in their restaurants and supermarkets. Who is checking them? Some of them even have the police working with them,” he said.
The increased taxation, he said, would have a significant impact directly on over 30,000 employees. Indirectly, suppliers, taxi drivers, entertainers, security, plumbers, electricians and others would also be affected.
His employees, he said, were discouraged by the budget’s pronouncements. Most are from impoverished areas and include single mothers and fathers trying to make ends meet.
“What does the minister have in place for all these workers when he shuts down the industry?” he asked.