QC: Web shops must publicise patron bans

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

A well-known QC yesterday said predicted that the proposed five per cent stamp tax on web shop patrons will push them to gamble illegally and have the opposite effect to the Government’s intention.

Wayne Munroe QC, who represents the Island Game and Paradise Games chains, told Tribune Business he was preparing to submit a response to the attorney general, Carl Bethel QC, on the matter and the rate of “sliding scale” taxation being imposed on web shops.

Declining to discuss particulars, Mr Munroe said: “We are addressing what we say is the rate of taxation on the web shops, and we want to also put something for them to think about on the patron stamp duty because we feel that will have an adverse effect on their goal to maximise the taxation of the industry. It also has the ability push patrons to gamble illegally. When they gamble illegally their aren’t under the controls of the Gaming Board.’

“They say they want to impose a patron tax to help pay for the social problems created by gambling. The Gaming Board has banned a lot of people for life for gaming, which couldn’t happen before in the industry. I told my clients that it’s their fault that they’re not doing a good job at making that known.”

The Government and web shops have been at odds ever since the 2018-2019 budget, and its new and increased taxes for the sector, which were unveiled on May 30, 2018. The industry continues to argue it was denied due process, via a lack of proper consultation, over both the “sliding scale” taxation structure and the five percent “patron tax”.

Speaking to the discussions with the attorney general, Mr Munroe said: “We had a meeting December 3. We thought that the attorney general was to get back to us. He thought it was the other way around.

“When we had a meeting on December 21 there was a little misunderstanding that caused us to get off to a little rocky start. Knowing the nature of Mr Bethel, having been in practice with him and against him, I think the balance of the meeting was productive and we left to put proposals to them.”

He added: “I know that he has rejected the proposal Mr Sears put to him. Due to work commitments, holiday travel commitments and health issues I only met with my clients on Friday. I kept the attorney general updated and I’m in the process now of sending him our position. I can’t say the Government is negotiating in good faith or bad faith. I can say that this isn’t unlike many other negotiations I have been involved with.”