Categorized | National News

Web Shop Owner: Vote No In Referendum

A popular web shop owner has urged Bahamians to vote no in next month’s referendum, noting that with only five web shop operators set to get licences, players’ winnings will be affected.

Chima Johnson, owner of The Daily Ticket web shop, warns that the Over-the-Hill and poorer communities are the ones that will suffer as statistically members of the country’s upper class are not frequent players.

Mr. Johnson hails from a gaming family and has more than 20 years experience in the gaming industry.

“This is a game played between the middle and lower class of our country and that’s who is going to feel the pinch,” he said. “Six months down the road it’s going to be rougher Over-the-Hill as the flow of cash will dry up.”

“The web shops were and still are the cash cow for Over-the-Hill and Family Island businesses through tough times.”

The referendum, which is set for December 3, will give Bahamians an opportunity to decide whether they want web shop gaming legalised.

Many church leaders have called on Bahamians to vote ‘no’ as well.

Mr. Johnson says foreign consultants hired by the Christie administration advised that there are not enough people in the Bahamas to sustain a national lottery.

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) said a national lottery should also be put on the table for consideration.

“It is ridiculous to think that the numbers racket can rake up money enough to be a financially successful operation here in the Bahamas but a national lottery cannot,” DNA Chairman Mark Humes said yesterday.

“If the government says it stands to make upwards of $20 million in taxes annually, then that would mean that the take home profits for these numbers businesses can potentially run somewhere in the vicinity of $200 to $350 million a year. How is $20 million more beneficial to social development than $200 million? And if these numbers businesses can generate those kinds of revenue, then why can’t the government with its own national lottery for education, sports, and social programmes? Why should the government have its hands out waiting for proceeds when it can make its own proceeds?”
Mr. Johnson also contends that there is not enough money generated to sustain the amount of money the government wants to “suck out” of the community daily by legalising this business.

Mr. Johnson said the government shouldn’t just stop at web shop licencing.

“I always look at what helps the majority. They don’t even have all the parts put together yet; you can’t just look at web shop licence, if you are going to allow me to gamble, allow me to gamble period,” he said.

The web shop operator also hit out at the $1 million bond that all operators will be required to put up, noting that it is “too high.”

He says the government needs to call in all the industry players and review their books in order to get a better picture of their volume of business and come up with a fee structure relative to each business.

He noted that not all number houses are doing the same volume of business.

Mr. Johnson also confirmed what Prime Minister Christie said recently, that several new web shops popped up in the last year hoping to take advantage of this licencing opportunity.

However, he stressed that only those in the business for at least three years or more should qualify for consideration because they know what they are doing.

After payouts, expenses and payroll, the percentages that the house retains are really small, which is why the bigger number houses are pushing for the referendum so they can actually save themselves some of the payout money, Mr. Johnson said.

The web shop operator also noted that if the referendum is passed the spin games that customers play on computers at web shops will be disallowed, further hurting the shops.

Spinning is a growing market to the gaming industry where web shops make up the differences from their numbers payouts.

Mr. Johnson said even if Bahamians vote no in next month’s poll it would be “extremely” difficult for the government to stop the web shops from operating.

Mr. Johnson was a guest on the radio talk show, 242 Small Business Talk on ZSR 103.5 recently.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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