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Webshop Laws Will Be Delayed

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe yesterday confirmed that the much anticipated legislation to regulate the webshop industry will not be tabled this week in Parliament as expected. 

The regulations to govern illegal numbers houses were expected to be tabled in the House of Assembly on Wednesday and debated the following week. However, Mr Wilchcombe could only say that the Gaming Bill “will come soon”.

That delay, said Robert “Sandy” Sands, the senior vice-president of external and governmental affairs at Baha Mar, is disappointing.

“We are indeed disappointed and it is our wish for the Bill to come soon. The quicker it comes, the quicker the benefits can accrue for casinos and the Bahamas in general,” Mr Sands said.

Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson left the country yesterday to consult with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the government expects her to give an update of the meetings by Wednesday, Mr Wilchcombe said.

The FATF, he said, will review the Christie administration’s final legislation and give feedback on whether there are sufficient mechanisms to prevent possible money laundering and black listing.

He said: “The government wants to make sure that this Bill can stand up against scrutinisation. By and large we have finished the legislation, but Prime Minister Perry Christie has asked us to ensure that all of the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed. Because the truth of the matter is we cannot afford to be black listed or be marked as a country of money launderers and jeopardise the regime already in place that governs casinos in the Bahamas.

“So yes, as the Attorney General is leaving today to meet with the FATF, the Bill won’t be brought to the House on Wednesday.

“I know everyone wants to know when it’ll come, my answer to that is it will come soon.”

Last week, Mr Christie hinted that the Gaming Bill would be delayed because the government was close to settling serious issues. He revealed that a leading bank – the Royal Bank of Canada –  had communicated an unwillingness to engage casino operators under the new regime.

He said: “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. 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 2013 gaming referendum), but my word becomes secondary to the concerns of the country.”

Last week, Mrs Maynard-Gibson told the media she was confident that proposed web shop regulations would be supported by the banking industry.

Mrs Maynard-Gibson said it was expected that the regulations would stand up to international scrutiny on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing guidelines.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 5 years, 1 month ago

This is serious, but talk about hilarious, ill-prepared, opening a can of worms and late again. They probably had no clue what they unleashed when they accepted money from the illegal operations and made promises of legalization. If they didn't know, it's only because they've gone deaf. People have been clamoring about the threat of money laundering and inability to validate the source of the already earned funds for years now. It's truly unbelievable, the legislation was to be tabled this week, and the AG just went for face to face discussions with the FATF oversight committee yesterday, neither the PM, nor the Minister of Finance had any idea that the ginormous amount of money flowing outside of the legal financial system could have any negative impact on the economy. A sitting govt board member sees nothing wrong with presenting 100,000 in cash to pay a bill, I'd like to be a fly on the wall when that issue comes up with the FATF....you can't make this stuff up...we need leaders. Even play ones would do at this point.

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jackbnimble 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree. This Government is all over the place. That's what happens when you play with "big dogs". Three years in power and the only major thing you have done is pass a Stem Cell Bill to pay off a croony. Now your other croony, the numbers boys is next in line for a favour and you can't get that done. Meantime, Rome burns. Economy remains shot, Illegal immigrants continue to run wild and crime increases and we are not meeting in Parliament to deal with any of that. Boy I tell ya.... you can't make this stuff up!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 1 month ago

I can just hear Allyson Maynard-Gibson telling the FATF representatives: 1) The numbers industry has always been a part of the fabric of Bahamian society; 2) The numbers industry provides many Bahamians with good paying jobs and other employment benefits; 3) The business leaders in the numbers' industry are fine outstanding Bahamian citizens who are actively involved in supporting the democratic processes of the Bahamas; 4) The numbers industry has been well run over the years by reputable business leaders who have made significant investments in online gaming technology and related equipment and facilities; 5) Legislators in the Bahamas have for many years failed to regularize this important industry to the Bahamian economy; 6) The numbers industry is becoming increasingly disruptive to the Bahamas' banking industry and of concern to the Central Bank's ability to manage the country's exchange regime because of the failure of past governments to properly regularize its activities against the backdrop of global anti-money laundering initiatives; and 7) The Bahamian government is satisfied it can create a regulatory apparatus to ensure the numbers industry is not used for the laundering of money from illicit activities around the world including terrorism related activities. BUT THE FATF ALREADY KNOWS FULL WELL: a) The numbers industry in the Bahamas has for many years been (and continues to be) owned and operated by mobsters and racketeers who have been engaged in a myriad of illegal activities, including money-laundering using loosely or laxly regulated banking facilities available both within and outside the Bahamas; b) The democratic processes of the Bahamas are seriously threatened by the willingness of corrupt politicians, corrupt political parties and corrupt government officials to accept bribes, campaign election contributions, etc. from the numbers' bosses; c) If current and past governments/politicians of the Bahamas have been unable or unwilling to shut down the illicit racketeering and money laundering activities of the known numbers' mobsters, then there is no conceivable way the Bahamian government would be willing or able to properly regulate the illicit online gaming and other illegal activities of the numbers industry, especially given that their illicit activities now span many jurisdictions other than the Bahamas, like Haiti; and d) The extent to which the numbers' mobsters and racketeers have corrupted the democratic processes of the Bahamas is exemplified by our PM's decision to ignore the wishes of the Bahamian people to have the known key criminals behind the illicit numbers industry prosecuted and their assets confiscated, as expressed in a duly held referendum instigated by none other than the PM and paid for by the Bahamian people out of the Public Treasury at a cost well in excess of one million dollars. THESE ARE THE SIMPLE FACTS BEHIND THE LIES VERSUS THE TRUTH, AND THE FATF KNOWS ALL!

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Reality_Check 5 years, 1 month ago

The unwillingness of the PM to have the known numbers bosses put out of business is now threatening not only our banking system, but also the operations of the legitimate casino operators in our hotel/tourism industry. Our PM out of his apparent indebtedness to the numbers' mobsters and racketeers is imperiling our country's entire economy and with it the jobs of many more Bahamians than those illegally employed by the criminals who should be prosecuted forthwith. The PM is harming all that has been done at great cost over many years to improve the standing of the Bahamas in the eyes of the international organizations fighting money-laundering and terrorism related activities globally. What a blithering fool our PM has become! SHUT 'EM ALL DOWN - THE LIKES OF CRAIG FLOWERS MUST BE PUT OUT OF BUSINESS FOREVER - PERIOD!!!

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sheeprunner12 5 years, 1 month ago

Reality, the PLP cannot shut down the numbers bosses web shops!!!!!!!!!!!! PERIOD. We will just all have to go to hell in a hand basket with the PLP and their cronies.......... this is 1984-1992 ALL over again .................. DON'T YALL SEE IT?????????????

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realfreethinker 5 years, 1 month ago

Sheeprunner12 you are so right. A nation for re-sale.

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jackbnimble 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes, realfreethinker. Going forward we can conclude that our Governments can be bought. A $45,000 plus campaign contribution gets you a Stem Cell Bill. God knows how much the Number Boys gave. Enough I guess to get their illegal money laundered!

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Purcell 5 years, 1 month ago

There will never be any legalization of the numbers businesses. It is not in their interest so that bought and paid for government will never ever lay a hand on them or regulate them.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't want to go to hell in a hand basket....can we change govt instead?

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proudloudandfnm 5 years, 1 month ago

Amateurs in action again.

My God it's getting beyond ridiculous now. They set their own deadlines and continuously miss them. Amateurs. A professional would have been aware of the international concerns and would not have announced until they were they could do something.

How can anyone support this party? Amateurs...

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

Forget promoting the poor to play their numbers hoping win something buy stuff with. Why not cancel ALL social assistance and government financial supplement programs to be replaced by ONE simple to administer - guaranteed income program? Comrades we need a political party to advocate for every adult over the age of 21 and citizen of Bahamaland for a minimum of 5 years to be provided with a guaranteed yearly income level supplement of $18,500,00,on top of their fair pay minimum wage 40 hours work week. The greens, reds and gold shirts are never going to play this idea forward. All three parties are too financially campaign monies dependent upon keeping business world - happy at maintaining their status quo.

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observer2 5 years, 1 month ago

Let’s say the FATF agrees to the legalization of the Numbers business. It will certainly be on the premise that the new operators are “fit and proper” and have clean legal records.

“The fit and proper” test may rule out some of the major players. In come the credible East St and Bay St cartels, which currently own and contractually tie up anything that moves in this country from oil to shipping, certainly they will meet the “fit and proper” test. Out goes the current owners and operators.

Contemplated retroactive penalties will assist in putting the current operators out of business.

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

Comrade Observ2 this is all talk. You will never see this PM's PLP government pass a Bill in the House of Assembly to "normalize as they like call it" the numbers rackets, when even his own cabinet ministers are now calling web shop - illegal gambling houses. It will never be passed. The PM quietly is already shifting his government's focus towards introducing a Bill already being drafted by the AG's lawyers to pass a National Lotteries Act..

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 1 month ago

Well good. I hope you're correct. Even if they don't shut the houses down, it will be competition to force them to close

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 1 month ago

Actually Tal, I don't think this was all a show, they did too much. Typically when they make a "show" effort, they get a committee and adhere to the say so of the committee so they can wash their hands...in this case the people said loud and clear they didn't want it, but he bent over backwards to do what he wanted in the first place. If they are secretly looking at a National Lottery, it's only because they're now backed into a corner by their own deaf and dumbness

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jlcandu 5 years, 1 month ago

Observer2,

There is no way even if they manage to legalize the numbers houses that the owners will be able to conduct proper business operations. The banks here will not risk their reputation and credibility to accept "the proceeds of crime". The underground economy will have to continue in order for the numbers bosses to "launder" their profits.

Just because the government may say "okay it's legal now", all the prior years of illegal operation are still considered illegal. Since the only way the legalization can take place is to shut the numbers houses down, confiscate all assets and lock up the perpetrators, and then have new potential operators open up "new" numbers houses under the new legal framework, this legislation will never pass in Parliament. Christie and his fumbling bunch of idiots will never lock up the numbers bosses, so they will be dancing around the issue for the next 3 years.

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observer2 5 years, 1 month ago

Jlcandu and Talrussell,

I think you are both right. Looking at the details of the new gambling bill in today’s morning paper, it looks as if it is the intention to restrict the numbers business to the extent that it is unprofitable.

No online gaming, players need identification, players need to physically show up in person, no foreigners allowed, cash only bets, no credit cards, no account transfers between house accounts, no international subsidiaries and no loans! Looks like they don’t want them to compete with the banks. Not sure if they are asking for GAAP audits by international accounting firms.

Add to this laundry list retroactive penalties, major international banks not accepting the business, local regulatory concerns and whatever additional restrictions are placed by the FATF. Ohhh…have we discussed this legislation with big brother to see if they have any concerns?

The best part of the new law is the splitting of the licenses into 3 parts – house, premise and agent. Each license has its own risk profile. Maybe Bay and East Streets will hold the house while distributing the riskier premises and agent licenses to the boys.

Stay tuned…but in the meantime the lights are being turned of in the schools of our nation’s second city.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 1 month ago

If the webshops were serious they would implement some of these policies now...transfers between accounts? What is that? Payment for a hit? They don't have to show up to collect payment? No ID required? With al of the "sophistication" they lauded in their system and this is the back room operation they're running TODAY while rebuking the gaming board chairman on the front page of the newspaper?

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TheMadHatter 5 years, 1 month ago

Yeah it's interesting that there is not a word about the public schools power being turned off in FPO in any of the newspapers.

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Reality_Check 5 years, 1 month ago

It is now in our national security interest that the illegal gambling houses be shut-down asap and the numbers' mobsters and racketeers like Craig Flowers be put out of business forever. A NATIONAL LOTTERY SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL BAHAMIANS WITH THE REVENUES LESS PAYOUTS EARMARKED FOR OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM!

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 1 month ago

Amen, amen,amen. Proceeds taken to revolutionize education in this country. We need to start competing with our Caribbean neighbours on brains as opposed to bling.

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

If procrastination had been an Olympic event, Bahamaland's Olympic Committee could have raised millions of dollars from the numbers men's to send PM Christie and his Comrade Minister Obie, off to bring home the guaranteed Gold Medal in the procrastination team heat.

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BahamasGamingAssociation 5 years, 1 month 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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sheeprunner12 5 years, 1 month ago

Is this the numbers Mafia of The Bahamas?????????????

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

Hasn't Minister Obie, the PM or his AG not bothered to read this?

  1. (1) Any person who pays or deposits any money or money’s worth to or with any person for the purpose of participating in a lottery, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction, in the case of a first conviction for such offence, to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or to both such fine and imprisonment .
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crabman 5 years, 1 month ago

all of my christian brothers and sisters, PLEASE remember the golden rule, as it is more than a way a life, especially here in my Bahamaland, he who has the gold makes the rules, take that suckers, ALL FOR ME BABY ALL FOR ME

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 1 month ago

In today's Bahamas, the US tourist dollar beats a webshop any day.

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