Categorized | National News

Gaming Bill Debate Begins Next Week

It’s a bill that hoteliers are anxious about, but come next week the new gaming bill will be debated in the House of Assembly, according to Tourism Minister Obie Wilchombe.

The minister tabled the bill in the House yesterday afternoon.

The proposed gaming bill would introduce an entirely new mobile and online gaming segment to Bahamian resorts’ gaming offerings allowing The Bahamas to tap into what is being projected to be a $100 billion industry by 2015.

Minister Wilchcombe, who is the minister responsible for gaming, told the Journal yesterday that the government is looking to get the country more competitive in the gaming arena.

“Gaming has always been an amenity to tourism and that’s how it is going to remain. We are seeking to mordernise the legislation to ensure that we are introducing new games and to ensure that we are competitive,” he said.

“The Bahamas has always been the leaders in gaming and that’s before many countries came on board and has not introduced gaming. We were in front and we were introduced to many as the grandfather of gaming. But we have done much to mordernise. So what we are doing now is mordernising the gaming industry to bring it more in line with the 21st century and make it more competitive with all our neighbours whether it be the United States, Latin America or the Caribbean.”

Minister Wilchcombe said he believes that in order for The Bahamas to become more competitive, it must offer new games.

“We must offer gaming that is attractive and we have to raise the revenue from $150 million a year and we have to get it to [up to $700 million] and you could do that by introducing new games, sports betting and by attracting high end people that are going to be spending the money,” he said.

Atlantis Paradise Island has already stepped its game up by adding a multi-million dollar sports book to the Paradise Island property.

Baha Mar officials say they plan to do the same once the multi-billion Cable Beach development is complete.

Baha Mar has also already begun experimenting with mobile gaming at the Sheraton through a temporary license from the gaming board.

Many Bahamians have said that the bill is discriminatory against Bahamians.

In January, Bahamians rejected the idea of the government regulating the web shops or establishing a national lottery.

Minister Wilchcombe has said that this bill will not entertain the idea of Bahamians gambling in casinos.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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