Categorized | National News

Gaming Bill To Be Tabled

After much consultation, revisions and delays, the long awaited Gaming Bill is expected to be tabled in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, the Journal has learned.

According to Journal sources, Prime Minister Perry Christie met with numbers bosses Saturday evening to fine tune the proposed legislation.

The new bill seeks to decriminalise the age old underground gambling industry in The Bahamas, making it legal for Bahamians to participate in numbers buying as well as it seeks to broaden the scope for casino operators.

However, it has been noted that despite the changes, Bahamians would not be allowed to gamble in casinos.

Despite an overwhelming number of Bahamians voting against legalising the web shop industry in the January 2013 referendum, the government now seeks to regulate the industry to meet its international obligations, obtain added revenue for the treasury and protect the financial reputation of the country as there have been concerns about money laundering.

Government officials have, over the past two years, strategically drafted this bill having numerous consolations with members of the Church, local and international financial services experts, Opposition members and web shop operators.

But after this past weekend’s meeting, Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said in a press statement that the prime minister called a “members only meeting,” inclusive of several Cabinet ministers and web shop operators.

“Amazingly, owners of the large web shops and their attorneys were invited to the secret meeting, but no member of the official Opposition and no owners or executives of the land based casinos was invited,” he said. “The invites represented a members only who’s who of the prime minister’s insiders club. Or so it seems.

“At a time when the prime minister is trying to win public support for the forthcoming constitutional referendum by getting people to forget his decision to set aside the public’s no vote on the gaming referendum, it is shocking that Prime Minister Christie would so brazenly play into the existing narrative that he is sold out to the numbers men by holding secret, exclusive meetings with the owners of web shops. The prime minister’s actions seem to be neither good governance nor good politics.”

The FNM chairman added that the prime minister’s decision to hold “these exclusive and secret meetings” suggests that he is cutting a “secret and favourable deal with the owners of web shops who just happen to be his financial backers.”

“In effect, the owners of the web shops and their lawyers appear to be writing their own ticket to continued financial success and the prime minister is giving them the pen and paper and office space to set themselves up for the future,” Mr. Cash continued. “This might not be the reality, but this is what appears to be happening. This approach to governance is very unsettling to the official Opposition, and we expect to the Bahamian people as well. Transparency has not been the watchword for the Christie government, but this is yet another opportunity for the prime minister to govern the nation’s affairs in a way that inspires confidence rather than in a way that raises doubts and suspicions. Secret and exclusive meetings to the exclusion of key stakeholders are not the way to inspire confidence.”

The bill is expected to be tabled in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.

Written by Jones Bahamas

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Watch JCN Channel 14 Shows

Jcn Channel 14

Sign in now to see your channels and recommendations!

Join Us on Facebook