Categorized | National News

Web Shops Gaming Could Be Legalised In 2014

Technology consultant C. Allen Johnson believes that with the country seeking to gain status in several international organisations, online gaming through web shops may be legal by next year.

While appearing on the JCN/Love 97 programme Jones & Company with host Wendall Jones, the CEO of Bahamas Digital Solutions suspects that if a new law is passed that only permits foreigners to carry out online gaming, it would not stand for too long if The Bahamas wishes to join the league of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Last week, it was reported that the Christie administration was considering revising the Lotteries and Gaming Act with plans to pass a Bill that would only allow foreigners, particularly those in hotel casinos to play games of chance online.

“The proxy gaming that they [government] is now giving Atlantis and other hotel casinos was what was intended for the web shops,” he said. “Basically what it would’ve done was it would’ve locked Bahamians into this lower level gaming platform,” Mr. Johnson said.

“The only reason they are giving that to Atlantis is because once we had agreed to gaming it could then give Atlantis an open platform. The reason they must now give all the casinos in The Bahamas the ted platform is because the only other alternative after that is an open platform, which would give all Bahamians the right to carry out online gaming.”

He said under WTO agreements, it would become illegal for any form of discrimination of ownership of gaming in The Bahamas or anywhere in the world.

He added that if in 2014 the government is seeking membership to the WTO, it would have to do away with gaming and the thing that prohibits gaming in the country against Bahamians is the Lotteries and Gaming Act, not the Constitution.

“The only thing you have to modify is the Lotteries and Gaming Act. So if that’s all you have to change, you have to change it for Atlantis and you have to change it for the web shops,” he said.
It is his belief that through this method, Bahamians would be able to participate in online gaming through the web shops.

As for the police’s plans to raid web shops, he said, there is no way that police can legally shut down web shops in suspicion of online gaming, because there is no law that speaks to digital activities.

He also noted that under global trade a rule, the government does not have the ability to regulate or tax web shop gaming because the services are not in The Bahamas.
“All you’re doing is carrying out an e-commerce transaction. It’s just like going online to buy shoes or clothes. It’s a digital transaction and there are no laws that police digital activity in the country,” he said.

“All people are doing is attaching a digital transaction to gambling, which should not be done.”
While he himself voted no during the referendum against regulating web shops, he said that web shops are just digital portals.

“The problem is that they are saying that it’s gambling. Yes, you are utilising lotteries, games of chance and games of skill,” he said.

“We don’t understand cyber space. What we’re trying to do is make cyber space the way we know it. We have to drop what we’ve been doing and embrace cyber space. You can’t bring the two together. A physical location does not exist in cyber space.”

Mr. Johnson explained that there is a concept called the met averse which is when the two realities converge, “This is where your work and pay, all happens in cyber space. What we have here in The Bahamas is a total unawareness of how the digital universe works.”

“In The Bahamas we have married the words ‘web shop’ to ‘gambling’. A web shop is not a gambling institution, and neither is an internet café. You go there to access the internet and do things on the internet. If web shops are classified as gambling institutions then BTC and Cable Bahamas should be classified as the same because they’re the ones that provide the service.”
He said Bahamians are now confusing gaming and gambling, when gaming is far bigger than gambling.

Mr. Johnson added that when considering how he was going to vote in the referendum he spoke to every minister involved in the gaming issue and said that no one, not even Chairman of the Gaming Board Dr. Andre Rollins could correctly define gaming to him.
He believes that the government needs to do more research and be able to fully explain gaming in The Bahamas.

In late January, the government facilitated a gaming referendum, which Bahamians rejected the proposal of a national lottery and to regulate web shop gaming.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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