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Gaming Bill Needs International Approval

Prime Minister Perry Christie

Prime Minister Perry Christie

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Perry Christie yesterday said the revamped gaming legislation hinges on the support of international regulatory agencies, adding that the government was close to settling “significant issues”.

While the government’s plans to regulate web shops through the amendments to the Gaming Act have raised concern, Mr Christie said these worries also extend to casino operations.

Mr Christie revealed that a leading bank has said that it did not want to engage casino operators under the new regime.

He said legislation to enact a new regulatory framework for casinos and web shops, will soon head to Parliament.

He added that Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson has been given the green light to take the government’s position to a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Europe.

When pressed for details on the legislation, Mr Christie said he could not speak about its provisions further, but that there would be a “radical restructuring” of the Gaming Board and related agencies and the recruitment of foreign experts to train personnel.

He said he could not confirm whether web shops would be required to close temporarily once the sector is regulated – something that was suggested by Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe earlier this year.

“The initial position of the Royal Bank of Canada, the government’s banker, is that they don’t want to be a part even with the casinos as well,” Mr Christie said. “They don’t want to be a part of this new regime of the casinos, so that’s why there is no doubt about my having to act. You can argue with me that I broke my word (on the 2012 gaming referendum), but my word becomes secondary to the concerns of the country.”

He added: “What has happened now is that we’ve brought everything above the surface and the question now is how do we go about conforming our legislation to require best practices from the industry itself, and always having the capacity to guarantee the accuracy and integrity of their operations – that’s what we’re doing.”

“As a part of the process, I don’t want to move before I know the level of international concern over what we’re doing and the extent to which we conform what we’re doing to the expectations of the international regulatory agencies,” he added.

Although he will be travelling from the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Antigua, Mr Christie said the first reading of the bill could take place a week on Wednesday if all issues are settled.

On Monday, Mrs Maynard-Gibson told reporters she is confident that proposed web shop regulations will be supported by the banking industry.

Mrs Maynard-Gibson underscored that the government is using benchmarks from other jurisdictions to come up with strategies for integration – such as a penalty for illegal operations prior to the implementation of the new regulatory framework.

She predicted that the legislation will stand up to international scrutiny on anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) guidelines. She also downplayed reports that once regulated the underground economy will not be welcomed by mainstream banks.

When asked whether acceptance from international agencies was critical to avoid blacklisting, Mr Christie said: “We have an obligation in moving legislation, in bringing a regime in transition from where it is, to where it will be. 

“We have an obligation to ensure we’ve done everything the right way in dealing with all of the agencies that may be concerned about that, and we know they’re concerned now.”

He added: “The reason why I was compelled to act in conflict of my word about the referendum is when the Governor of the Central Bank (Wendy Craigg) brought it to my attention and told me that what is happening in the Bahamas now is untenable. Then my personal commitment fell secondary to the national interest of the country and to show you how profoundly important it is.”

Mr Christie did not respond directly when asked whether the government has accepted and would continue to accept donations from web shop operators. 

The Prime Minister spoke to the media on the sidelines of multi-agency exhibition on disaster preparedness by the National Emergency Management Agency at Rawson Square.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 6 years, 2 months ago

I wonder how they would explain the 100,000 cash payment to the FATF by a sitting govt. board member....(breaking into smaller amounts and submitting by cheque raises the same red flags)

“The reason why I was compelled to act in conflict of my word about the referendum is when the Governor of the Central Bank (Wendy Craigg) brought it to my attention and told me that what is happening in the Bahamas now is untenable. Then my personal commitment fell secondary to the national interest of the country and to show you how profoundly important it is.

Interesting, the Prime Minister was well aware that the illegal gaming operation was huge in the Bahamas, so much so that at the time of the referendum he expected 40 million in taxes to be generated from the regularized industry. At the then proposed VAT rate, it would have made the illegal industry an approx. half a billion per year industry. He knew that this money could not be deposited legally in any bank. He knew that there were an unconfirmed 3000 jobs generated by the industry and that a sizable representation of those illegal operation workers executed a "fantastic display of democracy" on Bay St. Knowing all of this, the Prime Minister needed the governor of the Central Bank to tell him something every Bahamian knew? That there was a separate and illegal monetary system in the country and it was threatening the very foundation of the Bahamian financial system?... on reflection though, I suppose it's possible that the Minister of Finance never explained the implications to him

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TalRussell 6 years, 2 months ago

How a Comrade PM can speak so that his nation's peoples wants to listen in for his next brain fantasy revelation? PM Christie having been kept concealed behind his imaginary suspense curtain is anxiously awaiting a call from Buckingham Palace out England, when for the very fist time he will finally learn the name of the Bahamalander, his government named as the next Governor-General? Seriously, I couldn't make this up.

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proudloudandfnm 6 years, 2 months ago

An actual government would have known about this before they announced regulating. PLP truly are amateurs.... Took these web boys money, promised them legalization and now discover they can't without approval from outside. BOL!! If they worked for me every one of them would be fired by now.... pathetic...

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carlh57 6 years, 2 months ago

thats why they are in the government..they can't work for anyone else due to their antics and amateurish mindset....

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GrassRoot 6 years, 2 months ago

I think someone should tell the Queen, that the Sir Lynden Pindling Foundation took a high end car as a donation from the webshops. So that would make the future Governor General Dame Pindling complicit with the money launderers. How can this work and where is the money laundering oversight?. Banana Republic. And who is driving the BMW?

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TalRussell 6 years, 2 months ago

Get in the back of your red minds. If wrong is wrong, all wrong 'tis wrong? Comrades, long before all the bloggers decided to jump on-board, I have always maintained how this PM and and his cabinet colleagues have disobeyed the referendum's "NO votes of their own peoples. That a big price they will come to pay for doing this to voters. But before crying out for the Queen to deny Mrs.Pindling ... who we don't even know if she is the PM's pick for GG to succeed Arthur ... the governorship over her husband's foundation having accepted a car as their Grand Prize from an organization known be numbers connected, wasn't it the same Minnis and Loretta who are today so damn critical of Mrs. Pindling, who were cabinet ministers in Hubert's cabinet room back in 2008, when the red shirts regime accepted ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS, no questions asked, from Mr. Flowers associated companies for NEMA, after Hurricane IKE? Why didn't you reds call Hubert's regime's Bahamaland, a Banana Republic back in 2008? Did you write your angry letters to Buckingham Palace, complaining about Hubert, Minnis and Loretta, back in 2008?

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birdiestrachan 6 years, 2 months ago

Take this one to the Bank, If a pole was conducted today you will find that the vast majority of People living in the Bahamas would like the web shops to be regularized and this includes many who voted no..

Now the Reverend Patterson said he will not vote in a referendum again I say wonderful I trust he can get a whole lot of people who think like him to follow him, this will be good for the Bahamas.

Now the Bahamas has many self proclaimed Saints. But when the spot light of righteousness is shined on them . "They have been weighed in the Balance and found wanting" And they can quote the Bible the part that suits their fancy .

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 2 months ago

You've missed the point "birdie". It's not up to the serial gamblers. The Bahamas has signed onto international treaties that they must show evidence of living up to. Or would you rather we do as we please and be blacklisted?

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Purcell 6 years, 2 months ago

Respect the referendum bitch.

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birdiestrachan 6 years, 2 months ago

Well Purcell Does the truth hurt you so much??. You are not a self proclaimed saint, Just a mean and nasty individual . It is so much easier to cuss people, than to think. You folks are a dime a dozen.

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realfreethinker 6 years, 2 months ago

I voted no on the referendum,because we still cant gamble in the casino. the discrimination still continues. How dumb is it to say it is legal for Bahamians to gamble in the Bahamas as long as you dont go where the foreigners are. Nothing has change,but the numbers men getting to be legitimize.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 2 months ago

It's actually not that dumb, Mr Rupert Pinder actually gave a rather succinct example of the difference between a local and a foreigner gambling. Basically when a foreigner "gambles", there is a chance he can win or he can lose, if either occurs he gets on a plane and leaves the country never to be seen again. A Bahamian can win or lose as well, but in the event that he gambles away his mortgage, the children's tuition, milk money and his car payment, guess where he travels? Right to the Social Services line crying for food for himself and his family. In essence overnight we could have thousands of self thought high risk poker players on the bread line. Another unnecessary burden on the country. What then?

If gambling is legalized the industry should be made to bear not only the VAT tax but also a social safety net to account for the risk of this added burden on the country.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 2 months ago

Yes they can do the same with alcohol drugs etc, and we gat lots of people gambling their organs away on fried chicken, but there's a cap (that sounds callous but anyway...). Their salary. In the casino if I'm not mistaken (I'm no gambler) you can bet more than you actually have, way more. And lose it too. The slaves here could be dumber, I dunno, but those slaves get on a plane and leave, they don't become a burden to the state.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 2 months ago

I guess "double or nothing" doesn't work for regular Joe? (I dunno, so not gonna argue that) In any event, every government employee is told what they can and cannot do with their salary and for good reason, experience has taught the government that Bahamians can, do and will, pledge all of their salary, even the milk money if allowed to, then they will show up at Social Services crying. So the ban is not coming out of the air, and yes someone could spend the milk money on clothes and shoes, the govt can't prevent that, but I suppose they can try for the obvious.

As to the church, yeah that's a big problem in this country. There are lots of con men shaking down people.

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TalRussell 6 years, 2 months ago

Be careful what you politicians go asking about, cause it WILL come back bite your full of hypocrisy red backsides? The Pindling Foundation are NOT in any way being accused of accepting money under the table from numbers houses. During the numbers referendum a senior Comrade spokesperson for one of the numbers houses while making their case to the media for the 'legalizing' of local gambling or playing numbers had this to say: " With government funding having been slashed from too many community organizations, the numbers houses have taken over the role and inject as much as $100,000 per month into those organizations." They went on to tell the media that: "Many organizations are reluctant to receive their money publicly as they are afraid of what some in the community might say about the origin of the funds." Then there was this most revealing statement: "Some people take it on top of the table, some people take it under the table." Comrades we now know for a fact that there were both gold and red shirt candidates, who accepted campaign funds from numbers houses. Did they make those campaign donations by the means of company or personal checks, and did they get a receipt, or if they were made in cash-stuffed envelopes, never asking for a receipt? If over $10,000 cash, did each of the political parties respective treasurers, duly follow the anti money laundering law, by declaring them over-sized cash envelopes to the proper authorities. And, if not, why not? Careful, reds, your past files is tarnished and so easily check-able, very, very check-able Some your own big shot red shirts head organizations who accepted donations from numbers houses. Do you really want them called out publicly too? Politics can be so easily turned into a nastily played game .... just go ask Hubert?

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 2 months ago

Yes I want all the crooks exposed and gone.

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Tarzan 6 years, 2 months ago

Flip Wilson: "The Devil made me do it." Perry Christie: "RBC made me do it."

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1plpgovernment 6 years, 2 months ago

I have to admit. I ain read nuttin but the headline and just b cuz i see this man pic, my official comment is---- Look at this Stupid sissy.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 2 months ago

Yep. I'm waiting for release of the letter sent to Hubert Ingraham. I'd be disappointed if there wasn't a reply telling him to carry his hip

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TalRussell 6 years, 2 months ago

One day some young aspiring Bahamaland writer may put pen to words in a book titled: "Why a political party's Comrade Leader’s 'numbers man's agenda' - once elected - stopped them from listening to the ‘strong message’ the voters sent on referendum day?”

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arussell 6 years, 2 months ago

This Government should have known that the banks and other countries especially the USA would be concern about online casinos because they are very high risk to money laundering! With laundering money comes terrorists, drug trafficking etc. ...

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proudloudandfnm 6 years, 2 months ago

What I want to know now that we've been told to expect only 12 million in revenue is why? Why would we go thru any trouble whatsoever to legalize 8 business licenses for criminals when all we have to do is to enact a national lottery. How can a government owned and run national lottery have issues with international organizations? A national lottery should produce significantly more revenue than 12 million. And should be less hassle to enact...

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TalRussell 6 years, 2 months ago

The Supreme Court Justice should step-in to put an immediate halt to all this numbers lying normalization, by this government, before they are allowed to inflict serious, irreversible damages to the peoples of Bahamaland. One matter has now been acknowledged by the PM and his ministers of the crown. Numbers selling are rackets and therefore illegal. Putting that aside, the PM and his government have zero real understanding for what the number rackets are all about, it's cost to business owners in loss man-hours and employees theft, along with the increasing costs to taxpayers resulting from the gambling addiction inflicted upon citizens, or the actual amount of taxes it will collect from the numbers houses. Somebody is blowing smoke up somebody's backside - cause the average "gross income before expenses/taxes" at Bahamaland's casinos, is way under $50 million yearly.

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 2 months ago

The government is subsidizing many casinos, hotels, corporations and airlines now .................. are we now going to add numbers houses to the list?????????

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Dan101 6 years, 2 months ago

My favorite thing about this administration is how they campaigned to "fight crime, promote industry, create jobs and secure borders" yet the only and single concern they've shown thus far is to make these web shop owners happier and richer. Well their charter for governance did ssay 2030...

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Dan101 6 years, 2 months ago

"Gaming Bill Needs International Approval" <- The gaming bill has not even received LOCAL approval.

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 2 months ago

Dan101 ...................... you are dealing with Perry 2.0 .............. nothing has changed just like UR2.0 ............ soon it will be BAMSI 2.0 and COB 2.0 then .................... webshops 2.0 and God knows what else ............... this is just plain BS until 2017 .......................... sigh

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