Categorized | National News

Casino Gambling Being Researched

The biggest point of contention with the Gaming Bill 2014, that was tabled in the House of Assembly Wednesday, is the perceived discrimination against Bahamians gambling in casinos and tourists not being allowed in web shops, however, Tourism And Gaming Minister Obie Wilchcombe explained Thursday that despite there being a clarion call for casinos to be opened to Bahamians, the issue is much more complex than simply signing it into law and requires mounds of research.

In fact, Minister Wilchcombe said these things take time and if The Bahamas is to do them properly, then the country must go through the process of researching, analysing and figuring out.

He added that governments work in such a way that when they act, they have to ensure it is in the best interest of the country.

“Further research is needed,” he said. “We have to look into sustainability of the existing business. See, we must remember that in our country the Hobbyhorse Hall closed down, that was daily gambling. When we allowed for casino gambling the idea was to provide for an amenity for tourist to get the foreign direct capital from the tourists.

“If we look at what we are going to do in the future it all determines where we’re going to go and we have to get to the point where we’re sure that’s what we want to do and we can sustain it. The average Bahamian only saves about $800 right now, that’s a very serious thing. We have to think about what we’re doing before we go there, or the next thing we know, we’re in trouble.”

It has been the biggest bone of contention and question ever since the gaming issue arose – why is it that Bahamians cannot gamble in casinos, and what is keeping tourists from over the hill and away from web shops.

Minister Wilchcombe said while some think it takes just the stroke of a pen to reverse these decisions, they are much more complicated than that.

“Those who argue, ‘Do it now,’ they haven’t done the research,” he added. “That’s all impressionistic views, or their personal views and populous views they want to follow, but that’s not the right view.

“You have to deal with information. When we were dealing with the web shops we have to do a tremendous amount of research and the truth is you would find that you have people participating in one web shop, more than the people who voted in the referendum.”

He told reporters Thursday that Singapore, a country that recently raked in $3 billion from its casinos only after introducing them in 2005 visited The Bahamas, looking for advice on how to run them, pointing out that the government knows what it is doing, but some things just will not happen overnight.

“The research will determine where we go next,” he further explained. “The sustainability, the growth of our industry, the web shops and their sustainability to ensure that they are compliant but we are in a gradual process and we believe that’s the right way to go.”

He added that although it has been tabled, the Gaming Bill is still being tweaked.

“We are waiting now for the audited accounts which will come after the request for proposal (RFP),” he added. “The audited accounts will in fact determine the real numbers that we’re going to put in terms of taxes.

“We’re starting with these numbers because we have to, but we intend to revisit after we’ve looked at the numbers after a true audit is completed and that will take place after the RFP which they have to make and swear an affidavit to and then we will make some decisions.”

Debate on the bill is expected to begin next Wednesday.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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