Contending that they have been thriving off the National Lotteries Control Board’s (NLCB) electronic play whe game for the past five years, the Electronic Lotto Agents Association (ELAATT) is accusing Finance Minister Colm Imbert of favouring certain nationals of China by his imposition of a 10 percent tax on winnings.
ELATT president Allen Campbelle said the new tax on lotto winnings will push punters towards what he described as the illegal Chinese ‘Play Whe”, because they pay $36 to $1 while the bonafide NLCB pays $24 to $1.
For far too long, Campbelle said yesterday, Government has turned a blind eye on play whe bets at supermarkets, fast-food outlets, pubs and snackettes operated by certain nationals of China, many of them living and working in TT illegally.
There are, according to Ministry of National Security statistics, approximately 17,000 Chinese nationals living in the country with more than half of them not having legal status. Campbelle said a form of illegal Play Whe is conducted at many supermarkets, fast food outlets and pubs. These operators mimic the NLCB’s play whe in which people buy tickets only from a registered lotto agent and the winning numbers are officially aired on television or on radio.
Campbelle said that with the imposition of the ten percent tax on winnings announced in the 2018 budget, punters will now receive $23.50 on every $1 spent on play whe. However, what obtains at certain businessplaces, Campbelle said, is that a person can walk into a supermarket and places a bet on a mark at the cashier. He or she is given a receipt which represents that a commodity was bought. The supermarket’s proprietor, the ELAATT president explained, waits for the official NLCB’s draw to be announced on radio or television. “They now use that winning number to pay out - $36 to $1,” Campbelle said.
Godfrey Lee Sing, a Moruga proprietor and NLCB lotto agent, has sued the State for damages for losses he incurred by Moruga police officers’ failure to clamp down on illegal ‘whe whe’ gamblers in the district. In a letter addressed to Imbert last week, Lee Sing described the tax imposition as the beginning of the end of NLCB’s official play whe game.
“Punters will gravitate further towards the Chinese form of play whe. The Chinese pay $36 to $1 and, now we are taxing the already decreasing line of punters who are opting for higher stakes on their winnings,” Lee Sing said.