Categorized | National News

All Numbers Bosses Will Lose Money

They may be raking in the dough now, but according to President of FML Group of Companies, Craig Flowers, if Bahamians vote in favour of regulating the web shop gaming sector all of the numbers bosses will lose money.

Mr. Flowers, who was a guest on the Love 97FM daily talk show, Issues of the Day Wednesday, said web shop owners benefit more financially now.

“All of the operators will lose money – all of us. And it’s expected because there’s a lot of things that regulations will bring to us that will have us conform to certain standards. Right now these orders are not in place,” he said.

“You lose money if they [web shops] are regulated.”

Mr. Flowers, who recently threatened to shut down his web shops if the majority of Bahamians vote ‘no’ in Monday’s referendum, said for him, it was a personal decision.

“I would venture to say that the other operators would do likewise, primarily because we are presently operating with a government licence. We have a licence to open these stores every morning and when the government closes it down it cancels [that] licence and there will be no licence to open the web shops,” he said.

Mr. Flowers, who has a licence to operate in the Turks and Caicos Islands, however, noted that his patrons will still be able to access his operation in that nation.

The FML president said most gamblers don’t need web shops in order to gamble electronically, so shutting down the web shops won’t stop online gaming.

In fact, he noted that fewer than 25 per cent of his patrons play inside web shops.

“So, unless the government here chooses to take the stand to shut down the internet or such, it’s going to be a challenge,” he said.

Despite the fact that he stands to lose money, Mr. Flowers said he would like to see the sector regulated.

He said it just makes sense.

“Because of the volume of funds that move through the system on a daily basis it is very important,” he said. “This industry has to be accountable. Enormous amounts of funds are moving around daily and the temptation to use these open door policies from time to time by others who are not so credible . . . well, there’s a concern. Regulations close that door. It slams that door shut because now for anyone trying to invade the industry the loophole is closed and that’s the most important factor for why I want to see regulatory proceedings.”

He also noted that local banks have every right to turn away proceeds from the numbers business as it has “every right to say who their clients should or shouldn’t be.”

“If they choose not to bother with a certain class of funds, they have that right with no explanation,” he said.

Mr. Flowers, who operates 14 web shops in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco, said he has applied for bank licences outside of The Bahamas.

“I would love to be able to move towards a banking licence here because I have some fundamental problems with our financial business structure as it relates to day-to-day operations for business people in this country and I would like to have another forum to speak to that. That bothers me very much.”

He admitted that it will be very difficult to determine how this industry is going to react in a legal environment.

“We are in for some very, very strange reactions from the habits of Bahamians. Bahamians are very finicky when it comes to how they spend their monies,” he said.

During yesterday’s interview a caller phoned into the show and asked Mr. Flowers if payout amounts would be decreased if the sector is regulated.

“I can say to you that there is a possibility of the payouts increasing as well as decreasing, but at this time it’s premature because the industry itself is going to be exposed in a legal environment to some conditions that it does not know and because of that it is going to be very difficult for us to be able determine at this junction whether there would be any changes at all to payouts,” he said.

“I have a colleague who predicts that the payouts will increase. I believe in waiting until the [porridge] is cooked to determine the taste.”

Rogan Smith

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