Beirut’s casinos could face a tax increase after a $5.4million increase in pre-tax profits.
Lebanon Finance Minister Fouad Siniora has put forward a proposal to the government to tax 380 slot machines owned by Casino du Liban, after casino officials claimed the casino made a pre-tax profit of $24million in 2000, compared with $18.6 million in 1999.
The casino already pays taxes on its gaming table revenues and is arguing with the government over whether this should be extended to slot machines.
Only a few months ago, Casino Chairman Elie Ghorayeb paid more than $13million to the ministry as an advance payment for slot revenues or the past 3 years. The government will decide this week whether this payment is sufficient. Last year, international auditors Deloitte and Touche told the casino it would have to make a payment of between $70million and $80million, to cover the outstanding payment but Ghorayeb claimed this would wipe out the casinos profit.
The likely outcome will probably be that the casino will pay taxes on machines not available anywhere else. Even though the Casino du Liban may not be altogether content with paying taxes at all, it can breathe a sigh of relief that it will be paying only a portion of its profits to the government. In comparison, if it was forced to pay out the amount initially demanded by the Ministry, the casino, which has a monopoly on all the gaming tables in Lebanon, and has 30% of its slot machines in leisure centres, would have been taxed 30% on the profits of every machine.