Attorney General Faris Al Rawi says an investigation is underway into the game of roulette which has led to a murder in Trinidad and Tobago.
And Finance Minister Colm Imbert says that one roulette machine rakes in more than $500,000 a year. All this as the Government makes a case for the 100 per cent increase in taxes on machines and table games being operated by private members’ clubs and casino style businesses.
But Oropuche East MP, Dr Roodal Moonilal said the increase in taxes will cause some of these clubs to close its doors. He said six of them, including one in Woodbrook, will close its doors and send home some 650 workers for this Christmas.
He added, “the electronic roulette device, which caters for 12 players at one time and is wagered every 20 seconds, he said, attracts some $500,000 to $1 million a year. “Unbelievable. I understand it is some kind of exponential Play Whe…super Play Whe…Play Whe on steroids.”
He continued, “They would have to hire them back. The machines can’t work on their own. These are not robotic devices. They have to have somebody operating the roulette table.” A worker, he said, earns about $150,00 a year. “Why would you send home a worker who is generating $500,000 a year,” he asked.
The electronic roulette device is expected to generate $84 million in revenue once there is full compliance. Claiming the gambling industry is booming, Imbert said, “It is believed there are more than 20,000 amusement gaming machines in Trinidad and Tobago.” Slot machines in bars and restaurants operating under the Liquor Licences Act will now attract a rate of $6,000 a year up from $3,000. The slot machines are expected to increase revenues by about $60 million a year.
Imbert added, “The slot machines generate some revenue, but nowhere close to the roulette table.” Establishments in liquor licences, Imbert said, are entitled to operate up to 20 amusement gaming devices. However, he said, based on reports they now operate electronic roulette machines which is wagered “Three times a minute.”
During the same debate, Al Rawi said an investigation was under way into crimes, including murder, linked to the operation of unregistered roulette machines in this country.
He revealed that the police, Customs and Excise Division, Immigration Division and Board of Inland Revenue were doing ground-level checks against data held by the gaming licence registry, Finance Intelligence Unit and Board of Inland Revenue.
Al-Rawi said most roulette machines are imported from China. He told the House, “There is a serious criminality in the unlawful roulette gaming in Trinidad and Tobago.”