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Public Voted No - But Mps Vote Yes To Legalising The Webshops

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Gaming Bill was passed in the House of Assembly yesterday following months of public debate and controversy over the government’s plans to regulate and tax webshops.

Before the Bill was voted on, Prime Minister Perry Christie told the House the government could generate as much as $30m a year in taxes and other fees on webshops. The government also expects $25m from webshops in penalties and other fees as the sector transitions into a regulated environment, he said.

When the vote was taken, Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins was the only PLP MP present who voted ‘no’.

He was joined by the six members of the opposition FNM who were present. 

Five MPs were absent for the vote, including PLP’s deputy whip and Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells, Central and South Abaco MP Edison Key (FNM), Central Eleuthera MP Theo Neily (FNM), North Abaco MP Renardo Curry (PLP) and South Abaco MP Picewell Forbes (PLP).

After the Gaming Bill was passed, the members of the opposition left the lower chamber before two pieces of legislation related to the Gaming Bill - the Financial Transactions Reporting Amendment Act 2014 and the Act to Amend the Proceeds of Crime - were passed.

Nearly a month after receiving criticism for his absence from the parliamentary vote on Value Added Tax (VAT), Mr Christie voted ‘yes’ to the Gaming Bill along with 24 other members of his party.

During his nearly two-hour contribution as he wrapped up debate on the Bill, Mr Christie touted the impact revenue generated from gaming operations will have on his government’s efforts to develop educational and health facilities in the country as well as to improve public parks, beaches and green spaces, the promotion of sports, arts and culture and the aid of social initiatives.

Mr Christie said based on unverified information presented by the majority of web shop operators, the government could yield “some $25 million” in penalties, back business licence fees and application fees payable during the transition period when operators will be required to disclose the revenues generated by their operations in the past while paying a variety of fees.

Between $22 million and $29 million is expected to be obtained from gaming taxes, social contributions from businesses and other fees on an annual basis, he said.

He added that an additional $3 million is expected to be added to the public purse in the first year of operation due to the modernisation of casino games, which includes “the introduction of proxy, mobile and interactive gaming,” among other things.

He also insisted that his government has produced legislation that will withstand local and international scrutiny.

As a gesture intended to prove his government’s commitment to ensuring the web shop industry is regulated in a fair and transparent manner, he also tabled a request for proposal (RFP) form which, once publicly released by the Gaming Board, will invite people to apply for gaming house operator and gaming house premises licences.

Mr Christie also referred to the controversy over his government’s decision to ignore the results of last year’s gaming referendum in order to regularise the web shop industry. He emphasised that his views on the matter have changed overtime.

“As I stated recently during the last Budget debate,” he said, “my government’s position on the regularisation of web shop gaming has evolved as a result of certain realities which have emerged, following the outcome of the referendum on this issue. It is misleading and most unfortunate to suggest that the government in proceeding with the regularisation of web shop gaming, is being undemocratic and ignoring the outcome of the low turnout of registered voters in the consultative, nonbinding referendum.

“As explained to religious leaders and others whose views, advice and counsel I greatly respect, the economic, social, law and order, national interest and international obligation realities which have developed, make it absolutely necessary and the right thing for the Government to regularise web shop gaming in the manner being proposed.”

The Gaming Board, which will regulate the new gaming regime in the country, will undergo an extreme make-over, he said.

The legislation also revamps the gaming options offered at hotel-based casinos.

The Gaming Bill will now move to the Senate for debate and a vote before it is passed there and later enacted.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 5 years, 1 month ago

Bahamians!! We are being governed by communists!! Wake up!!

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jujutreeclub 5 years, 1 month ago

It's amazing how the referendum was officially delayed after this bill was passed. This goes to show that the referendum was only a smokescreen to allow the VAT and gaming bills to pass in the house of assembly. The gender equality referendum was never intended to go to the stage of passing or debating in the hoa. Shame on them and I feel for us as we are being taken for a ride by these people in government.

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mostsickandtired 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank goodness its passed. Now an industry that has been in the Bahamas for generations will be legalized and taxed and we can finally enjoy some of their profits, the same way we do on casino taxes! Bunch of hypocritical pharissees who opposed it, anyway...too self righteous for me.

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concernedcitizen 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree but the taxes are too low ,,,,

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

PM since you claim God wanted you act on "regularizing" numbers - best you go back for a second chat to ask Him, how the peoples public treasury is going collect their monies? Comrades what a complete farce when this PM and his cabinet colleagues are claiming to have the secret as to how to pull off what not even the American, European or Canadian governments or any other foreign government have ever managed to pull off. PM maybe you need to come clean with the thousands who Voted “NO,” as to exactly how in hell are you as the leader of a tiny island nation, going to pull off the collection of taxes and fees from internet gambling? PM are you not ashamed to take the name of God and the numbers men's in the same breath? Careful PM cause yesterday one preacherman's done gone public to boldly say, it no way you going make 100?

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Reality_Check 5 years, 1 month ago

Every single MP who voted "Yes" and every single MP who did not show up to vote "No" will rightfully face the wrath of Bahamian voters in the next General Election in a way never seen before. A politician's remaining political life is rightfully short lived when he or she shows complete and utter disregard for the wishes of 90+ percent of registered voters and proceeds to trample on the constitutional rights of Bahamians at large. The legislation just passed is unconstitutional on many fronts and Christie, McWeeney, and Maynard-Gibson know that to be the case!

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 1 month ago

Wait a minute..has Wendy Craig given her feedback? What about the prior local conviction of Flowers and the US indictment of Fox vs the law's requirement that you cannot have a criminal record? What kind of article is this?

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jlcandu 5 years, 1 month ago

ThisisOurs,

Just so you know -- the legislation has already built in giving the power to "the Minister" (read Obie Wilchcombe) has the power to pardon any applicant's previous criminal record or activities prior to applying for a license.

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

Comrade PM I want you know the preacherman's who said you're health ain't good enough take you to your 100 Birthday, while I hope he is wrong, i do have disappointments with your governing and look forward to your retirement from politics, come 2017.

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

"To hear him you done knows da voice?" Start calling around to ask the preacherman's - was that you who said - PM Christie don't make he 100th Birthday and why he said it?

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GrassRoot 5 years, 1 month ago

The implementation of the Gaming Bill will change the Bahamian economy massively. In a country where you cant get a loan/venture capital from legitimate sources, the numbers boys will soon start to control a large array of businesses, private homes, real estate. In this country, cash is king - and the numbers boys have cash. I do believe it will make a few people very rich in a short period time and they will do anything it takes to influence the political process from a to z to have their privileges secured.

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jackbnimble 5 years, 1 month ago

This Government has set a dangerous precedent which our children will live to reap long after these bastards are gone. They have clearly been purchased by the highest bidder.

My prayer is that I live to see the next General Election. I CANNOT wait to vote them out!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 1 month ago

Not only have they ended their political careers, but they have now cemented the impetus for aggressive investigation down the road into their corrupt activities with the ultimate goal being to prosecute certain key individuals who currently sit at the highest levels of our Government. Clawing back the wealth stolen from the Bahamian people will be a key part of the retribution exacted from these corrupt politicians, their family members and their business cronies in the private sector.

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themessenger 5 years, 1 month ago

My brother, if you think there will be any aggressive investigation into any of their activities, nefarious or otherwise, you're pissing into the wind. Remember that that Peter 'ain much different from Paul and many of us haven't forgotten the Commission of Inquiry that condemned even the PM at that time. Certain Ministers using their clothes closet for a US dollar depository, $5,000 per house commission on "low cost" government houses or paying their utility bills with 100 thousand cash???? There will be no investigation by this side or the other, there are far to many skeletons out there and Peter and Paul knows where each others are buried. Confucius say " when you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 1 month ago

It is to bad for those who suffer from the ":Chicken Licken" syndrome, Mr. Christie and his government did the right thing in passing the gaming law. No body is going to hell for gambling. and no body will start to gamble because of the law. Those business are operating in the Turks Islands and in Haiti. and you can be assured those Countries will be collecting their taxes.. Why should the Bahamas not collect its fair share. Those Ministers do not know when they will die so they sure do not know when Mr: Christie will die. Preachers of dome and gloom. The same God who loves them, Loves Mr: Christie . and Mr. Christie's life may be more pleasing to God than theirs.

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concernedcitizen 5 years, 1 month ago

What may i ask ,and i really don,t know why i,m asking guess i,m bored ,,WTF is the "chicken licken" syndrome .As an avid reader an somewhat of an historical quote bluff i have never heard ,read ,or seen on TV anyone ,human or otherwise refer to the 'chicken licken' syndrome ..Come on out with it Birdie you made that nonsense up ??

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concernedcitizen 5 years, 1 month ago

@birdie ,i googled it ,it is chicken little syndrome and really doesn,t apply to your piece ,,tell the truth you are PM Christie are you not ??

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 1 month ago

"Chicken-Licken" the gambling bill is not the end of the world and the sky has not fallen it is only an acorn. some said the same about independence and NI. It is going to be all right, Why should the Webb shops not pay their share of taxes. the numbers business has been around from the UBP time. They could not stop it. The Government needs the taxes.

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asiseeit 5 years, 1 month ago

It is simple, MONEY TALKS! The Bahamian people and their vote have been totally disregarded, WE DO NOT MATTER. This government is bought and paid for, look at what their first order of business has been, stem cells and gambling. I bet next will be oil. The PLP just told the Bahamian people a big F you, we do not care what you want and we will do as we please. Government of the people,, my foot!

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sansoucireader 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't care if you like or dislike gambling, web shops or whatever. The REAL ISSUE is that the PLP government decided to toss out the results of a decision voters made. To bad if more didn't vote or they didn't like the result of the vote. Bad decision from the leader on down. Why didn't they just change whatever they had to in the House? Now their stupid decision to go ahead and do what they want, because it suits their purpose, could have disastrous results for future elections --if people will even vote, that is. (Pirates, everyone of 'em!)

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