The island nation of Antigua is implementing a new tax structure for land-based and online gambling operators that emphasizes local employment.

Members of the Antiguan Financial Services Regulatory Commission met last week to discuss proposed changes to the rules governing gambling businesses on the island. Among the changes is a new tax code that would reward operators who employ local residents with a lower tax rate.

The new changes are part of what looks to be a total revamp of the island’s gambling regulation under a bill called, the Gambling Act of 2016. This new legislation is meant to replace Betting and Gaming Act 1963 which the head of Antigua’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC), Dr Paul Ashe. In an interview with the Antigua Observer, Dr. Ashe called the 1963 act, “outdated.”

Under the new plan, island operators with fewer than five local employees will shell out 5 percent of their gross gaming revenue (GGR) to Antiguan tax collectors. Operators in the 5-30 local employee range will pay 4.5 percent while 30-100 local employees earns a spot in the 3.5 percent bracket. Larger operations, including land-based casinos, with more than 100 employees would pay out just 2.5 percent of their GGR.

Despite capping out at $750,000, the new tax structure does not compare favorably to other island gambling empires such as Malta.

Other changes to Antiguan gambling laws include stricter monitoring of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, as well as a new regulation requiring operators to remit funds in dormant player accounts to the government.

Not surprisingly, the regulatory schemes have not gone over well with operators who have come to appreciate Antigua for its laid back approach to gambling regulations. Just days after the plan was announced Pinnacle, a major offshore operator, announced that it would be pulling its licensed subsidiaries from the Antiguan market as soon as their licenses expire, according to a report on CalvinAyre.com.


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