It is a similar situation around the globe whether in Nevada, South Africa, Macau or elsewhere – the entertainment industry, and gambling in particular, is largely subject to disposable income and in the present economic climate people, from the high rollers to the penny slots players, are tightening their belts. In consequence many gambling operations are seeing dramatic falls in gaming revenues and in some places currency exchange rates are adding to their woes.
In Jamaica the Betting, Gaming & Lotteries Commission (BGLC) has reported that in 2008 the gambling industry posted a flat performance and shows signs of declining this year. Some in the betting industry already have seen around a third less revenue in the last six months. The gaming lounges in Jamaica also are seeing a drop in revenue, down between 20% and 30% since September. Last year the lottery increased profits from $5.4 billion in 2007 to $6.2 billion but is expecting growth in 2009.
At present it is racing that is bearing the brunt of the decline, and lower wagering activity is compounded by the worsening Jamaican/US dollar exchange rate, which pushes up costs of simulcast fees and other operating expenses.
One betting shop owner has complained that under current law there is little means of supplementing takings at betting shops. Bookies are unable to offer other services such as food and beverages.
The gambling industry is important to the Jamaican budget and contributed $2.9 billion in tax revenue in 2008, according to the BGLC. Amendments to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act are expected to be passed later this year and will require additional premises to pay Gross Profit Tax rather than the lower levy set at present. So with lower disposable incomes for their clients, higher taxes and worsening exchange rates, 2009 is likely to be a tough year for gaming operators in Jamaica as well.
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