Caribbean Levy Board: Duties Not Paid by Bookies

Trinidad and Tobago horse race betting shops could face penalties soon

The latest report from the Caribbean gambling market involves news that Trinidad and Tobago horse race betting shops are resisting and evading the payment requirements of the Betting Levy Board (BLB).

It has been stated by BLB chairman Kama Maharaj at a sitting of the Public Accounts Committee, that 'knowledgeable people have calculated that we should be collecting $1 billion.'

According to him, this 'nightmare' of a situation is seeing betting shops getting away with paying taxes because there is no legislation empowering the board to collect them. 'We have no teeth,' he said. 'We are going to ask Cabinet to enact legislation to allow us to collect taxes.

"14 jockeys have migrated to the United States and Canada,' he asserted, explaining that each person who places a bet has to pay an extra amount in taxes which is supposed to go to the BLB, to which it represents a major source of income.

'We are supposed to be collecting $100 million but we would be happy with half that," he said, stating that they have been collecting a total of around $15 million annually from betting shops, and that only after much 'gentle persuasion' the figures have increased to $18 million.

Still, the situation got much worse when an adverse court ruling went against the BLB, causing the collections to decline.

Therefore, Maharaj said, 'part of the board's plan is to set up betting shops all over the Caribbean, all the way to Belize.'

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