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CJ Reserves Decision On Web Shop Injunction


Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett has reserved making a decision on whether he would lift an injunction allowing the police to shut web shops down.

The chief justice also did not decide whether the parties representing both sides – that is the web shops and the government – will proceed to trial.

Wayne Munroe, lead attorney for six of those businesses argued on Tuesday that the government never made any attempts to close down web shops before holding their referendum in January.

He represents six web shops, namely FML Group of Companies, Island Games, Islands Luck, Asue Draw, and Chances.
Mr. Munroe further noted that the companies he represents have all had their business licenses renewed over the last few years and have met with government officials from the Ministry of Finance to discuss regulations.

Alfred sears, who represents Paradise Gaming agreed.

He said his client has 26 locations throughout The Bahamas and employs 160 permanent Bahamian workers, adding that if web shops are closed, it would result in possible bankruptcy, loss of jobs among other things.

Mr. Sears also told Sir Michael he is confident his clients’ business falls within the parameters of the Lotteries and Gaming Act.

The attorney further claimed Paradise Gaming would suffer irreparable harm.

Loren Klein, who represents the Attorney General’s Office, insisted that the web shop owners are engaged in activities that take them outside the Business License and Lotteries and Gaming Acts and that none of their attorneys have fully stated the nature of businesses conducted by their clients.

He also refuted Mr. Munroe’s claim about the government never going after web shop owners as he said in 2009, charges were filed against one of the owners and over $800,000 was confiscated.

In response to some of Mr. Sears’ arguments, Mr. Klein says his clients’ website’s homepage openly admits that their business involves gaming.

He also said that in none of the affidavits, do the web shop attorneys clearly define the nature of their businesses.

A conservatory order is in place to keep web shops open.

It was granted to the owners back on January 30 by Senior Supreme Court Justice Jon Isaacs.

This followed Bahamians overwhelming rejecting the whole idea of regulating and taxing web shops following the referendum on January 28.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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