THE EDITOR: Open letter to the gaming industry.
Perhaps the best argument you can provide against the increase in your tax burden is not to protest but to instead take a position of full disclosure and transparency with respect to your operations.
You owe it to the public and to yourselves to paint a full picture with respect to your industry and why it is deserving of a lesser tax burden.
Perhaps you may want to begin your argument by telling us how the local tax structure compares to that used elsewhere in the Caribbean? Are you paying less abroad? More? The same?
Tell us when was there last an increase in those annual fees and taxes? And what were they before?
Then tell us as an industry what is your total revenue each year?
And if a table is taxed at $120,000 a year, how much exactly does it generate annually? Is it ten times that amount? One hundred? One thousand?
Show us as well how much you already contribute as an industry in terms of corporate taxes and VAT each year? Surely, if you have been paying your fair share, this amount would be significant.
And how much foreign currency do you deposit in local banks? We know there are foreigners who visit your establishments, surely they bring “hard” currency with them. But given the issues with forex shortages, tell us as well how much do they and your foreign shareholders take out of the country each year?
Do you do any commercial banking yourselves? Do you dutifully pay NIS and health surcharge for your “many” employees?
Lastly, can you tell us about any studies you may have commissioned that addresses the social issues created by organised gambling? How many people have lost their livelihoods as a result of gambling addiction?
How many children have been forced to go to bed without dinner? How many families have been broken apart?
And how you as an industry have rallied to address those problems. Tell us about the support groups you have created and funded. And the lives you have saved and rehabilitated etc.
Sell us! Don’t just rely on a knee-jerk emotive issue like the continued employment of your staff. Argue a case based on facts and figures. And don’t argue that a more ameliorated tax rate helps you to employ people, because to do so is to inadvertently petition for my tax dollars to indirectly subsidise your business.
Perhaps it is only after a full picture is provided that the public can find a reason to rally behind you and your cause.
Until then I have to believe the assertion that you are in fact paying less than your fair share. And given the social and economic impacts, I am also bound to ask myself: have we been wrong to allow you to grow unchecked for so long?
GEORGE ELIAS, Cascade