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Casinos No-Go For Bahamians

By KYLE WALKINE

Tribune Staff Reporter

kwalkine@tribunemedia.net

DESPITE mounting criticism of the discrimination against Bahamians in the proposed Gaming Bill, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said yesterday that in order to protect the country’s integrity, the status quo restricting Bahamians from gambling in casinos will remain.

Mr Wilchcombe also said that foreigners will not be allowed to participate in webshop gaming once the

industry is regulated. 

Speaking to reporters at a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, Mr Wilchcombe said certain restrictions were put in place to protect the Bahamas and the government has not pushed them aside. 

“Truth is, we have a number of issues in this country that we have to look at in terms of discrimination,” Mr Wilchcombe said. “I can tell you one or two that we have to address. But the truth is that this is a system that’s been going on now for many decades. It was all for the growth of our country. We have to remember that when casinos were agreed to, they were agreed to as an amenity for the tourism industry. That’s what it is right now. That’s what I intend (for it) to remain for the moment because that’s what’s expected.”

Labour Minister Shane Gibson has voiced his disapproval on the new gaming legislation because it upholds the ban against Bahamians gambling in casinos. 

However, Mr Wilchcombe said the law was written the way it is for a reason. 

The minister, who also has responsibility for gaming, also said the legislation that would regulate web shops should be complete by Friday, with regulation to take effect before the end of the month. The government has said that taxes on the sector will be retroactive to July 1.

Mr Wilchcombe also said the government has still not made a decision on the licensing fee web shops will be subjected to once the sector is regulated. 

The legislation will create standards web shops must meet in order to be licensed.

“We’re asking all companies to comply and if they can’t meet the standards they have to close,” the minister said. “But what I suspect to happen is that some will conglomerate.”

He said some of those standards are integrity, the web shop’s ability to be monitored, the type of gaming that is used, financing and the web shop’s wherewithal to survive. 

The minister said the Gaming Bill is nearly done. However, the government is currently awaiting word from Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson, who is abroad meeting with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), before finalising the bill.

FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis has continuously criticised the government for its decision to move ahead with regulating the web shop industry despite an overwhelming “no” vote in last year’s gaming referendum. 

However, Mr Wilchcombe said the referendum’s low turnout suggested that Bahamians were urging the government to take the lead on the issue.

“The referendum had 50,000 plus people that voted,” he said. “I think it was 53,000 or thereabout.

“It told you something, that Bahamians took the position that they will stand back and see what happens. In fact, don’t ask us to govern for you. You govern. I think that’s what they were saying.

“We respect the fact that they voted and there were many who opposed. I don’t like certain things, but I understand how societies work. In a democracy we have choices. You can do or not do. We’re hoping that more and more Bahamians will determine that they don’t want to gamble.”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years ago

After losing the duly held referendum paid for by the people in which Christie has now shown himself to have had a horse in that race, the Government said it still needed to revisit the gaming laws in our country because they are discriminatory. Christie, Wilchcombe, Maynard-Gibson and others are now singing an entirely different song, presumably because Robert Sands and Ed Fields have been told by their massas (white masters) at Baha Mar and Atlantis, respectively, to tell the Bahamian government the foreign owners of these hotel properties don't want large numbers of black Bahamians (especially ones of Haitian decent) mixing in the casinos with their predominantly white foreign guests. Wilchcombe sees it as his duty to hang the sign that says: "YOU BLACK ISLAND FOLK AIN'T WELCOME HERE!" We, the Bahamian people, grant enormous customs duty, real property tax, stamp duty, foreign exchange and numerous other concessions to the foreign owned hotels and casinos and also provide them with relatively cheap labour and what do we get in return: DISLIKE OF OUR BLACK HERITAGE! This racist form of discrimination is much too difficult for us to explain to our children and has serious psychological consequences for all of us.....NO MR. WILCHCOMBE, NOT IN THIS DAY AND AGE WHEN SO MANY OF OUR BLACK BRETHREN HAVE FOUGHT SO LONG AND ENDURED SO MUCH HARDSHIP IN ORDER FOR US TO BE ON A MUCH MORE EQUAL FOOTING WITH OTHERS OF A MUCH LIGHTER SKIN COLOUR. The Constitution of The Bahamas does not not permit such discrimination and any law or agreement containing racist provisions of any kind can only continue to exist where such provisions are deemed void ab initio. WE DON'T NEED A BLACK GOVERNMENT PROTECTING RACISM WHICH WHITE FOREIGNERS MAY CONSIDER TO BE IN THEIR OWN SELF INTEREST.....WE NEED A BAHAMIAN GOVERNMENT FOR ALL BAHAMIAN PEOPLE, WHETHER THEY BE BLACK, WHITE, YELLOW OR WHATEVER COLOUR! IT'S AS SIMPLE AS THAT!!!

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Clamshell 5 years ago

It's the powerful churchmen behind this, not the casino owners. The only color the casino operators care about is green. In the US, all races play in the casinos, no problem.

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Josie 5 years ago

A Bahamian not being able to legally go into the casino for recreation (for instance, with visiting friends/family) protects the country's integrity how?

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DillyTree 5 years ago

Let's face it folks, they don't want riff-raff hanging out in the casino with the tourists. And the church folks are quite happy to play on the unchristian-like atmosphere of gambling, so the myth is preserved. Absurdity, as always.

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realfreethinker 5 years ago

So our "integrity" will be intact as long as we stay over the hill. These clowns just dont get it.

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SP 5 years ago

This is without question discriminatory.

Please call an election to settle this matter once and for all. No one that I know agree with governments decision on this issue.

Combined with the ongoing illegal Haitian immigration problem, the electorate has lost all confidence in the PLP and have no use for the FNM that left the country in shambles and perpetuated many more problems.

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Dan101 5 years ago

"NO BLACKS ALLOWED IN CASINO" "YOU N-WORDS TAKE YA TOOTIN N HOLLERIN TO THE NUMBER SHOP"

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sheeprunner12 5 years ago

If the government tolerates the Hawksbill Agreement since 1955, why are we so thin-skinned over exclusivity in hotel casinos??????????? ................... Freeport is far worse offensive to Bahamians.

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Purcell 5 years ago

Very simple. he casinos don't want any Bahamians in there because how they carry on. What is happening is an apartheid. Meanwhile back at the farm the numbers bosses don't want to be regulated and there never will be any legalization of numbers.

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Hogfish 5 years ago

Wilchcombe you stupid dumb jackass..

What gaddamn difference does it make if someone gambles in a casino vs. a webshop.??

And this MF has the gall to talk about integrity!

The reason these souless sellout corrupticians want to make sure we only go the numbers boys is so flowers/sebas them stay happy and can get some of their money back from the constant contributions to that PLP kitty and perry's pocket.

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BahamasGamingAssociation 5 years ago

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bahama...">https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bahama...

WHICH ON OF THE BELOW REIGNS SUPREME IN THE BAHAMAS?

The Bahamas Lottery and Gaming Act Chapter 387 Section 50 Persons prohibited from Gaming

Or

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Chapter III – Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedom of the Individual. Section 26 Protection from Discrimination on grounds of Race, Place of Origin etc.

The Bahamas Gaming Association stands by the Ideology that all human beings who are 18 years or older should be treated equally in all sectors of the Bahamian Economy which is enshrined in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

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