St. Maarten working on legislation to index its casino fees

PHILIPSBURG--Casinos can expect to pay more in fees as early as the end of this year. Government is working on legislation to index casino gaming fees. The current legislation outlining the gaming fees dates back to 1979.
Finance Minister Richard Gibson told Members of Parliament (MPs) in Monday’s Central Committee debate on the draft 2016 budget based on the existing legislation Government is only collecting some 50 per cent of what it should in fees when the earnings compared to the fee amounts are taken into consideration.
Amendments to the legislation are already in the works to index the casino fees, he said urging MPs to vote for the legislation when it is tabled in Parliament in the near future. The indexation will lead to at least the doubling of what Government now collects from the gaming industry.
The draft amendment will bring about a phased implementation of the fee indexation over a three-year period. The fees will increase by one-third each year after the legislation is passed. Implementing the full increase in one go was deemed “too drastic” by Gibson. He said this approach will give the casinos time to get used to the increase.
The planned indexation of the fees was shared with Parliament based on questions in the budget debate about the casinos outstanding fees to Government from MPs Leona Marlin-Romeo (independent), Cornelius de Weever (independent) and Dr. Lloyd Richardson (United People’s party).
Casinos owe some NAf. 12 million in fees to government. That amount is reflected in the draft budget as a collectable to boost Government’s revenues.

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