Second Reading Speech by Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong on the Gambling Duties Bill10 Jan 2022
2. The Gambling Duties Bill will consolidate the laws on the levy and collection of duties on lawful betting and lotteries. These laws are currently contained within the Betting and Sweepstake Duties Act, or the BSDA, and the Private Lotteries Act, or the PLA. The consolidated Act will provide for common tax administration, enforcement powers, and penalties across the duties on betting and sweepstakes and private lotteries.
3. The BSDA was enacted in 1950. Since then, we have made improvements in our tax administration and enforcement. The last significant BSDA amendments made were in 2005 but relating to duties, and not enforcement or administration. So this Bill harmonises the tax administration and enforcement provisions between the BSDA and the PLA and aligns the tax administration and enforcement for the gambling duties with other tax Acts administered by IRAS. Let me illustrate with two examples:
a. For tax administration, the Commissioner of Betting Duties currently does not have the power to refund overpaid betting and sweepstake duties, even though that is provided for overpaid private lotteries duty and other taxes administered by IRAS. Clause 19 of the Bill will now provide for the Commissioner of Gambling Duties to do so.
b. For enforcement of the betting and sweepstake duties, the Commissioner of Betting Duties currently may not enter or search premises. However, he may do so for private lotteries duty and all other taxes administered by IRAS. So Clause 25 of the Bill provides for the Commissioner of Gambling Duties to similarly enter and search premises for the enforcement of betting and sweepstake duties.
a. Today, for betting and sweepstake duties, it is not a specific offence for a taxpayer to file an incorrect statement. If any prosecution is to take place for false filing of returns for betting and sweepstake duties, we rely on general criminal law as in the Penal Code which has a penalty designed to apply generally. On the other hand, the filing of incorrect returns for private lotteries duty and casino tax have each been made a specific offence. Likewise for the filing of incorrect returns in connection with other taxes like income tax or GST. So, this Bill thus proposes that the filing of an incorrect statement for betting and sweepstake duties will be a specific offence with a penalty that is consistent with similar specific offences in the other tax laws.
b. For example, the fines in the BSDA and PLA are currently not aligned for the same offences. For failing to file a return, a betting operator could face a fine of up to $500, and a private lottery promoter could face a fine of $1,000. The same offence in the Income Tax Act and the GST Act attracts a fine of up to $5,000. This Bill proposes that, for gambling duties, the fine for non-filing of returns will be up to $5,000, aligned with the Income Tax Act and the GST Act.
c. Clauses 27, 28, 29 and 30 of the Bill ensure similar penalty structures across gambling taxes; and that quanta of penalties and fines are commensurate with similar offences in other tax Acts administered by IRAS.
a. Currently, gross gaming revenue is subject to casino tax rates of 5% for premium gaming; and 15% for mass gaming. These rates are not to be changed until after 28 February 2022.
b. In April 2019, the Government announced the introduction of a tiered casino tax structure from 1 March 2022 with higher tax rates than today and a new 10-year moratorium, subject to the casino operator meeting certain development targets.
c. For premium gaming, the first $2.4 billion of gross gaming revenue per year will be taxed at 8%; and the rest will be taxed at 12%. For mass gaming, the first $3.1 billion of gross gaming revenue per year will be taxed at 18%; and the rest will be taxed at 22%.
d. f the casino operator fails to satisfactorily meet its development targets, a flat rate of 12% for premium gaming and 22% for mass gaming will apply instead.
e. So, Clause 46 of the Bill provides for these amendments.
7. Mr Deputy Speaker, I beg to move.