Categorized | National News

PM Responds To MPs’Gaming Bill Concerns

Prime Minister Perry Christie refused to tell reporters yesterday what would happen if the majority of parliamentarians oppose the Gaming Bill scheduled to be debated in the House of Assembly next week.

Two of the prime minister’s own MPs, Tall Pines MP, Leslie Miller and Gaming Board Chairman, Dr. Andre Rollins have expressed concerns over what the bill’s “discriminatory nature.”

“I know my member, Mr. Miller has expressed a concern and the Gaming Board chairman has philosophically expressed concern about the bill as well,” he told reporters yesterday.

“Members will have an opportunity to speak when the time is right and as the leader of the government I will have the opportunity to respond. The country wants a government that is able to listen to the people and respond positively to what is taking place. We do know that the legislation is intended to modernise gaming primarily for people outside of the country in The Bahamas and to cause there to be a better-regulated environment and allow us to make money from it.”

Prime Minister Christie said he knows that the issue of discrimination will come up.

“We know it exists and we will deal with it,” he said.

“For example if we get in there and all the members of parliament get up against the bill, what do you expect me to do?”

But, Mr. Christie refused to say whether he would withdraw the bill if something like that happens.

“We will see what they have to say, so let’s wait for the debate; let’s wait to see what happens,” he said.”
The bill was tabled in the House of Assembly on October 16.

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 Bahama Journal recently 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 at the time.

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 dollar Cable Beach development is complete.

Baha Mar has also begun experimenting with mobile gaming at the Sheraton through a temporary licence 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 make provisions for Bahamians to gamble in casinos.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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