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Anne Lindner

I-Gaming Tax to Be Nixed in Antigua

29 October 2002

The 3 percent tax on Internet gaming companies in Antigua and Barbuda is about to become history.

The abolishment has been proposed in the form of an amendment to the International Business Corporation Act. The amendment is being debated in the country's lower house of parliament.

Ronald Maginley, Antigua's director of offshore gaming, said it typically takes between three and four weeks for a bill to complete the process of becoming law. The law is likely to pass.

"We have the majority," he said. "It just needs to go through the whole process, but we seem to be getting there."

He said the tax, established in 2001, is being repealed because it has driven away two-thirds of the jurisdiction's online gaming operators; the number of licensees has dropped from 87 to 39.

"When we levied the tax, we started to see a number of gaming companies leave the jurisdiction, but I don't think it was only (because) of the tax," he said. "At the same time, we had brought out new regulations, which were much more stringent than anything we had in the past."

The companies who left went to Curacao, Costa Rica or the United Kingdom, he said.

"In one sense, we're sorry that we lost companies, but the other aspect is that it was a measure that we needed to do because we saw the way that gaming was going," Maginley said. "While everybody was concerned about what was happening legislatively with the United States, I think more importantly, you need to pay attention to what is happening within bodies such as the FATF (Financial Action Task Force)."

Maginley said the only thing that could hold up passage of the bill is Parliament's heavy schedule, which consists of six additional acts and seven appropriations bills in waiting.

Compared to the early days of the industry, Maginley said, operators today are more appreciative of strict jurisdictional controls. For one thing, he said, companies have to be more aware of money-laundering issues because the industry has been singled out internationally for its susceptibility to money laundering activities. That combined with the consistent blocking of U.S.-based credit card transactions signaled a need for change in both regulations and tax scheme in Antigua.

"The cash flow is not what it used to be, so the 3 percent really takes out of your net win," he said. "It became a little bit onerous in terms of a tax. So there was a need to look at it again."

Coincidentally, Antigua's legislature is also taking a look at an amendment to the Money Laundering Prevention Act. That amendment was passed Thursday in the country's lower house and should be law by the second or third week in November, Maginley said.

The amendment increases the power of the act and gives it civil forfeiture provisions. Under the act, the government will be able to gain access to records of people whom they suspect are involved in money laundering and to hold such people for seven days without a warrant.

I-Gaming Tax to Be Nixed in Antigua is republished from
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner