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Still No Entry To Casinos For Locals - But Criminals Allowed To Hold Licences

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FORT Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins said he will vote “no” to the Gaming Bill if it remains in its current form because it discriminates against Bahamians and facilitates corruption.

Dr Rollins said the bill will “sanitise” previous convictions of webshop bosses who violated the Lotteries and Gaming Act, an action he decried as unfair because Bahamians who continue to suffer the loss of job opportunities because of minor criminal convictions are not afforded the same luxury.

He also revealed that as Gaming Board chairman, neither he nor other Gaming Board members were included in the process of creating the Bill. Dr Rollins was fired from his post nearly two weeks ago.

“Contrary to public belief, even though I was chairman of the Gaming Board I was not ever a part of the process to revise this Bill,” he told reporters after the new Bill was tabled in the House of Assembly.

“No member of the appointed board was invited. You have to question what is the real reason for having an appointed board if they aren’t asked to participate in the construction of the legislation that governs the very agency they are supposed to be policing.”

Dr Rollins added that the Bill gives too much power to the minister responsible for gaming.

“What I am concerned about is . . . this Bill will result in the nullification of the appointed board because all of the decision making will ultimately rest with the minister,” he said. “It is a mistake for the Bill to make those kind of revisions because in any responsible jurisdiction you have boards of multiple people who decide on any disputes or make decisions with respect to the industry and the industry stakeholders have a right to appeal, but not to a politician.

“This Bill, however, invites a tremendous amount of potential for corruption because you are allowing one person to have all of the power and make them susceptible to the whims of those in the industry who are not supportive of the actions taken by the appointed board.”

The new Bill allows people to appeal to the minister responsible for gaming if the Gaming Board declines to give them, among other things, key employee or gaming employee licences.

The Bill also allows the minister to make any decision after consulting with the board, whether that decision relates to the board itself or to applications for a licence, among other things.

In saying the Bill overlooks the past criminal convictions of webshop operators, Dr Rollins referred to FML Web Shop CEO Craig Flowers, who was convicted in 2011 of permitting his premises to be used for a lottery and promoting, organising and conducting a lottery. Mr Flowers was subsequently fined $10,000 and almost $1m, which was taken by police during a raid of his establishment several years ago, was confiscated.

“This legislation sanitises what took place as it relates to illegal gaming prior to 2014,” Dr Rollins said. “It means that whatever confiscated funds were taken, those funds are no longer belonging to the Treasury but (back to the person from whom they were confiscated). This causes me as an elected representative to question how it is that we are bringing forward legislation that exonerates an individual when we have many ... who are of the lower economic strata who have been convicted of minor crimes who are clamouring for their records to be clean or to have their records cleared of whatever minor criminal charges that they were convicted of.

“The public has the right to expect that any legislation that does for one should simultaneously be accompanied by legislation that seeks to make provisions across the board for the empowerment of individuals who in this economy now are being disfranchised for offences committed in the past, but after many years of living a life free of crime, where they are law-abiding and seeking to do their best to put their past behind them, no such measures are being brought to this House to give them any opportunity to redeem themselves in the eyes of the private sector for them to be given a job.”

Dr Rollins said the government’s decision to accept money from Mr Flowers placed it in a position where it felt the need to ignore his prior conviction.

“The fact is the government has accepted Mr Flowers’ money in any number of respects, whether it be as someone donating to the relief efforts following Hurricane Ike down in Inagua or someone who is a major sponsor of Junkanoo. I think that is where we as politicians have really erred or have been guilty of perpetuating hypocrisy in that we have refused to address this issue of webshop gaming while at the same time having no difficulty accepting those individuals’ monies.

“We should never have willingly perpetuated the criminalisation of individuals unless we were prepared to do without the money of the industry. I think it would be expected that if Mr Flowers’ financial generosity were not accepted, the government would have had a stronger case to say they would hold his past conviction against him,” he said.

Comments

mostsickandtired 6 years ago

I am always amazed at the hypocrisy of Bahamians. We have condoned the 'numbers' business for decades. We have made jokes about it in our churches, workplaces, bars - wherever Bahamians gather, and NOTHING was ever done to stop it- by the church, by the government, law enforcement - NOBODY. We have probably all benefited from it in one form or another by either ourselves or relatives or church members giving us some of the proceeds, and never did we REFUSE the money! now that we want to legalize it and recognize it as a business, all of a sudden we are condemning it and acting all 'holier than thou'! When they legalized marijuana use in the US in various states, did they do a retroactive bill to somehow penalize all those dealers who were selling it illegally before? Of course not! When they lifted the prohibition ban on selling alcohol did they penalize the rum runners? Of course not! We are not a Christian society, never was, never will be. When Jesus comes again, HE will usher in a new world where we, if we believe in HIM and follow His commands, will then be a part of that Christian world. Until then, lets not fool ourselves. Tell Rollins sit down, and stop giving hypocritical, nonsensical statements!

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Reprecussions 6 years ago

His statements makes sense and your comparisons have no merit. The difference is we had a referendum and the majority vote WAS NO!!! This is a democratic society and the government went against the democratic process to suit their agenda. I don't care about the theological view points I care about the facts. FACT is the government is clearly corrupt to the core, anyone with limited intellect could understand whats going on shit I do!!! This is sickening what is even more sickening is no one is doing shit about it not Big mouth Bran or Hubert Minnis only person speaking out is ROLLINS and no one is taking him seriously.

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Honestman 6 years ago

You have to admit that Rollins has a valid point. In addition, government still hasn't resolved how these new "legalized" web shop operations are going to bank their cash. The mainstream local banks have indicated they are going to have a problem accepting deposits from web shops and we haven't received any clarification yet from the Attorney General. This should be the focus of the debate. How do you make illegal money suddenly legal within a banking system that is forced by industry norms to adopt "best practice" in all of its affairs? What a mess!

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Sickened 6 years ago

We all know that Flowers built his building with the promise that he would get a commercial banking license. That was put on hold while we all voted no on the referendum. Now I've heard that the banking license is in the process of being approved. All the cash stored in his vaults suddenly become legit and people will be lining up to borrow money. We will soon see Bank of the Bahamas closing its doors as it is no longer required by successive government MP's to get free loans. Now all MP's will be going to Flowers' bank and borrowing at low, low rates (and then will get them written off). This is the biggest kick-back deal these politicians have ever made. Kudos to Dr. Rollins for not participating in this and not being a greedy SOB and lining up for his free money.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 years ago

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT!!!!! A DAMNING STATEMENT OF THE EXTENT OF THE CORRUPTION OF CHRISTIE, WILCHCOMBE, MAYNARD-GIBSON AND OTHERS IN TAKING MONEY FROM KNOWN CRIMINALS TO FURTHER THEIR OWN POLITICAL INTERESTS. CHRISTIE, WILCHCOMBE AND MAYNARD-GIBSON HAVE SOLD OUR GOVERNMENT TO THE LIKES OF KNOWN RACKETEERING MOBSTERS LIKE CRAIG FLOWERS!! HEAVEN HELP US ALL!!! THIS ALONE IS GROUNDS FOR CHRISTIE, WILCHCOMBE AND MAYNARD-GIBSON TO BE BANISHED BY THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE FROM POLITICS FOREVER AND PROSECUTED FOR THEIR COMPLICITY AND DUPLICITY IN ONE OF THE MOST EGREGIOUS AND OFFENSIVE ATTACKS ON THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES UPON WHICH OUR COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED!!!!

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asiseeit 6 years ago

This nation is corrupt to the core and it will come to bite the nation in so many ways, we will pay the price. The problem is that nobody has the sight to see that future generations are going to pay dearly for the corruption of today's leaders. I weep for my country.

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Tommy77 6 years ago

One big mess. http://s04.flagcounter.com/mini/kfoW/..." style="display:none" />

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GrassRoot 6 years ago

I don't know Mr. Rollins and the fact that he is member of the political class makes me naturally suspicious. However and having this said - he is spot on. Corruption is one issue, money laundering another one. This piece of legislation will massively damage the reputation of Bahamas as an IFC. Where is Ryan Pinder? Where is BFSB? Where are the other professional organization of the financial sector? Where is BACO (compliance officers)? All part of the net?

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asiseeit 6 years ago

This Nation has learned nothing from it's past mistakes. We are reaping the rewards of the corruption during the drug years, what do you think we will get from the corruption of today? Stupid is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

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Reality_Check 6 years ago

Christie, Wilchcombe and Maynard-Gibson need to fervently deny that they and the PLP ever received a dollar from the illicit activities of the illegal web shops to fund their political interests. They cannot just say that the FNM did it so we did it. Politicians and political parties that take funds from criminal enterprises are guilty of aiding and abetting the laundering of the proceeds of crime and the Bahamas has statute laws with dire consequences for all such individuals engaged in money laundering activities. Perhaps much more importantly though, if Christie, Wilchcombe, Maynard-Gibson and the PLP did in fact take money from the racketeering mobsters like Craig Flowers in exchange for promising to pass legislation legitimizing or regularizing their criminal enterprises, then these same politicians and their party are guilty of receiving bribes and all concerned should be prosecuted forthwith to the full extent of the law. Given Maynard-Gibson's position as Attorney-General and her role and efforts to date in strongly lobbying for the illegal web shop owners and their illegal industry, she would have to abstain from any involvement whatsoever in the investigation and prosecution of all those guilty of accepting illegal bribes from the numbers' bosses.

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TalRussell 6 years ago

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by TalRussell

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TalRussell 6 years ago

Not so damn quick...think first - then post? Comrades from the seemingly smooth sailing posts for the former gaming chairman, am I to be left to think alone over my puzzlement? Why did Dr. Andre 'hit the brakes' when standing up in the Peoples House and and not be willing to talk what he only started talking about in the House during yesterday's session? You must know I'm left to go figure out for myself -- why in hell not? The Comrade seems to sure as hell have known lots more than he previously talked about of which we are only now learning he knew all along? Comrades don't leave me stranded on this one?

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The_Messenger 6 years ago

Rollins should be applauded for speaking the truth and calling out an unfit "leader".

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Bahamianpride 6 years ago

Rollins develops Morality on the outs. Interesting.. Its amazing how people become so concerned about the people when they are not a part of the gang anymore. The people voted no, these gambling operations should of immediately been shut down and boarded up. If he took the position he's taking today immediately after the referendum then i would take him serious. Now its just the howling of a wolf that has been kicked out of the pack.

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PKMShack 6 years ago

oh my what do their supporters do now, tell the truth and shame PGC. HAI must be laughing his ass off

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guyfawkes 6 years ago

Isn't the same Dr. Rollins that spoke out against the Constitutional Bills but still voted "Yes", to all the bills. I am not impressed yet Rollins, vote "No" first then you may convince me.

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Publius 6 years ago

Wrong. Parliament has not even voted on those Constitutional Bills yet. What he voted yes to was the VAT Bill. That doesn't negate the merit of many of the points he has raised on this matter though.

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SP 6 years ago

At least Dr. Rollins and few others have enough sense to stand up for Bahamians.

Obviously Christie and his crew of merry-men are looking after special interest, friends, family and lovers.

Hit dey no good ass's as again Dr. Rollins. If dey don't listen dey will feel!

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guyfawkes 6 years ago

Still Rollins spoke out against the VAT bills and voted "Yes", let him vote "No" first, then I`'ll be impressed. Until then he is a politician doing the exact same thing as Christie. They say one thing for the camera but still go with the flow.

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