Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe yesterday reiterated that web shop gaming will be regulated on July 1 despite the government’s legal affairs minister suggesting a later start.
Mr Wilchcombe, who has ministerial responsibility for gaming, said the proposal of a national lottery was still on the table, but its consideration was not a priority.
“July 1st is the day I intend to proceed,” Mr Wilchcombe said. “We are not the first to seek to cause this to be regularised. The former administration prepared legislation and they prepared the way in which to regulate web shops and so we have been working with that legislation and we have been talking with the web shop owners. We are working hard to ensure that we can make the date.
“It is important because whether a national lottery is on the table, there are many options on the table and there is an option presented by the (Dr Danny Johnson). He spoke very strongly about a lottery and the need to get funding for sports and culture, so it is not the first step, but we are considering it.”
Mr Wilchcombe revealed that the government will bring regulations to the House of Assembly to legalise the web shop gaming industry during his mid-year budget contribution in March, and after more than a year of speculation following the “No Vote” in the 2013 Gaming Referendum.
He said while he respected the church’s position and the results of the referendum, there came a time when the government must make “the tough decisions and govern”.
Debate on the bill is expected to start this month; however, no timeline was given yesterday on when the legislation would be tabled.
Last month, Minister of Legal Affairs Damien Gomez said July 1 was an unrealistic start date. He told The Nassau Guardian that critical accounting exercises were continuing with web shop operators and that December 1 would be more realistic.