Categorized | National News

Equal Rights For Gaming, Says Hotelier

Contrary to what has been argued in some circles, hotel officials have absolutely no difficulty supporting a law that would give Bahamians the green light to gamble in local casinos.

As it stands, Bahamians are prohibited from doing so, an issue the prime minister has promised to “deal with it.”

But according to Baha Mar’s Senior Vice-President for External and Government Affairs, Robert Sands said while hoteliers have no problem with this, there is something the industry will not support.

“What the industry has a problem with is the government allowing web shops to become mini casinos and do not apply the same terms and conditions that they apply to land based casinos that are currently licensed,” Mr. Sands said.

It was during his address to the Caribbean Gaming Forum last year that Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe made it clear that Bahamians should be able to occupy every possible office within the structure and within the sector.

We are working diligently to ensure that Bahamians will, sooner rather than later, be owners of casinos and owners of the gaming industry of The Bahamas. That is fundamental,” he said at the time.

He however acknowledged that it is not easy to revoluntionise an existing philosophy that requires change.

Prime Minister Perry Christie has made similar comments, stressing that there is nothing in the law that prevents Bahamians from owning casinos “so long as they are able to qualify.”

At last report, the government was considering a casino license application from a group of Bahamians for a New Providence gaming operation.

“If the government in its wisdom decides that that is its position, then as long as they meet the same criteria that casinos are put through today – a) to be vetted and b) to have the financial commitment in terms of capital and currently in The Bahamas, it’s 500 hotel rooms attached to a casino, then why not? The playing field is level. But you cannot have an uneven playing field,” Mr. Sands said.

Written by Macushla Pinder

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