High taxes hurting business - SVL
President and chief executive officer of the Supreme Ventures (SVL) Group, Brian George, said the Acropolis gaming lounge in Montego Bay, St James, which was shuttered on Friday, was not earning its way because it was not attracting as many patrons as the company would have liked.
Noting that between 40 and 50 people were visiting the facility per hour, George told Sunday Business, "We do head counts per hour but that figure may be the same 40 to 50 people that were there in the previous hour."
However, the more fundamental reasons SVL cited for closing the lounge were the current economic challenges and a significant increase in lottery gaming taxes, which the chief executive said have had an adverse effect on the company's profits.
That has forced the company to further streamline operations to improve profitability in 2014, SVL said in a release.
The Acropolis facility, located on the popular Hip Strip in downtown Montego Bay, was only opened in March last year.
"We have just decided to come out of that market completely", George said.
He said the company opted out based on assessments of the opportunities in the market and has concluded that Montego Bay "was not the right place for us to be at this time".
The company has also decided to significantly reduce sponsorships and donations this year.
SVL said that last year, unclaimed prizes of more than J$180 million, including a Super Lotto Jackpot, that supported SVL's corporate sponsorship and donation programmes, were required to be paid over to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) under new conditions of its gaming licence.
That was in addition to more than J$800 million paid to the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education Fund, more than J$1.3 billion in lottery and gaming taxes, and more than J$360 million for BGLC fees, the company said.
Those payments are all conditions of SVL's lottery licence and up to the company's nine-month financial report for 2013, the company said.
SVL said it would continue to make the required investments and focus on building profitable gaming lounge operations at the Acropolis Barbican, Odyssey Market Place, and the newly reopened operations in Portmore, St Catherine.