Employees in the local gaming industry are now worried about their future, as a recent amendment to the Finance Bill, 2007 is likely to shut down the industry entirely.
The Finance Bill, 2007 will be brought for the debate in the Parliament tomorrow.
Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Conrad Enill, told the Express yesterday that previous forms of the legislation left some ambiguity with regard to the definition of a slot machine, which is illegal, and that this amendment of the proposed law was necessary.
„We understand that slot machines are brought into the country in two pieces of machinery and then the two pieces are put together to form a slot machine. This is illegal and we need to clarify what exactly constitutes a slot machine,“ Enill said.
He added that if the present amendment to the Gambling and Betting Act were to be immediately implemented, the gaming industry would be shut down overnight.
However, Enill said there would be a provision in the act that will state the amendment will not become law until the act is proclaimed, and that the Government will continue talks with the gaming industry before any final decisions are taken.
He added, however, that the Government’s position remains the same, and this is to make casino gambling illegal in this country.
Yesterday, Brian Phillip, president of the Association of Members Clubs (AMC), told the Express that the group felt it had „an axe over its head“.
„We have had more than 10 weeks of discussion with the Government about the way forward for the industry. We have been regularising the industry, we have trained staff to detect addictive behavior and we have a doctor on hand to deal with this among other things. We feel betrayed by this new move on the side of the Government,“ Phillip said.
„They have asked us to do a report on the industry and we have done it. We have done our part, everything that was asked of us. They say that the new legislation will not take immediate effect but it only a matter of time before it does and then more than 75 per cent of our employees will go home when the machines under this new definition are made illegal.“