Players in the nascent gaming industry are up in arms against the Gaming Commission over a new fee structure which they describe as “astronomical” and capable of crippling the gaming industry.
The new fees, which are between 100 and 500 per cent increase over the previous ones, have seen, for example, the Gaming Licence, which used to be US$10,000 or its cedi equivalent, moved up to US$50,000 for a casino, while the annual renewable gaming licence is now US$60,000 per casino, up from the previous US$5,000.
The industry players claim that the new fees have neither been approved by Parliament nor gazetted and do not conform to the provisions of the Fees and Charges (Amendment) Instrument, 2013 (LI 2206) which contains all approved charges for a particular period by all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
“The quantum of these increases is, regrettably, unsupportive,” said a petition signed by seven casino operators in the country to the Interior Minister, a copy of which the Daily Graphic has obtained.
New fees and the law
The gaming operators said the new fees structure as issued by the Gaming Commission was also not founded in law that set up the commission.
The Gaming Act mandates the Minister of Finance, acting on the recommendations of the Board of the Gaming Commission through an LI, to set the minimum capital requirement which determines the ad valorem fee to pay on the minimum capital.
According to the petition, Section 16(2) of the act states emphatically that the licence fee is two per cent of the minimum stated capital of a company, which has currently been fixed at US$200,000, and the renewal of licence attracts one per cent. This means that gaming centres and casinos will pay US$4,000 for their licences and US$2,000 as renewal licence fees.
Reactions from Commission
The acting Gaming Commissioner, Mr Emmanuel Siisi Quainoo, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, discounted the claims raised by a section of casino operators, saying the majority of players in the industry had expressed no reservation at complying with the revised fees.
He denied that the new fees were not founded in law, saying the commission knew exactly what it was doing and that none of its actions regarding the new fees was unlawful.
Mr Quainoo explained that the commission had not even started collecting the fees, which had been approved by the Ministry of Finance.
The Daily Graphic has gathered that the Interior Minister has already held preliminary meetings with the gaming commissioner over the matter.
The gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar industry across the world and contributes significantly to productivity and revenue generation in many developed economies.