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Webshop Operators Unhappy At Fees Imposed In Gaming Bill

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

LAWYER Wayne Munroe said yesterday that his clients, who will face millions of dollars in fees before applying to operate gaming houses, did not receive a “sweetheart” deal from the government with its decision to regulate the numbers industry.

He added that the hefty fees operators will have to pay out to the government in the first year will likely lower the pay out to customers.

Mr Munroe told The Tribune that while his clients are pleased the government followed through with regulating the industry, there are certain clauses in the new Gaming Bill and regulations that his clients found to be “unfair”.

He said the web shop operators he represents, including FML, Island Luck, Island Game, Whatfall and Chances, made several suggestions to the government. However, he said, the majority of these suggestions were shot down.

As a result, Mr Munroe said the transition into a regulated environment will include hefty fees that will accumulate from the Christie administration’s imposition of back taxes. He said this includes outstanding business license fees going as far back as six years, among other things.

He insisted that the taxes, coupled with an assortment of other fees, will likely have an impact on pay-outs to patrons for winnings.

Prime Minister Perry Christie said in the House of Assembly on Monday that as much as $30 million a year could be generated from taxes and fees on numbers houses. Around $25 million is expected from fees during the transition into a regulated environment.

“There are some aspects that cause concern,” Mr Munroe said. “These include freedom for people to go with whichever operator they would like, meaning the ability of tourists to play in number houses. The government was not impressed to do that or even make concessions when it comes to the taxation structure. We felt that the tax rate and license fees should have been the same as casinos.

“So from a business standpoint, the rate of taxation will likely affect the pay-out system. Not only will the operator be affected, but the gamer will too.

“But I can tell you that my clients are most displeased with the back taxes and fees that will be imposed as a result from the years when the industry was unregulated. We thought that $350,000 was extraordinary in addition to business license fees which are to be retroactive by six years. And the fees must be paid up front.”

The new Gaming Bill was passed in the House of Assembly on Monday after months of debate and push back from various groups over the government’s choice to disregard the majority “no” vote result of the January 28 numbers referendum.

This week Democratic National Alliance Leader Branville McCartney insisted that regulating web shops was sure to “backfire”.

He said: “During his contribution to the debate, the prime minister called the finalised legislation the result of months of effort, and focused dialogue with the relevant stakeholders. He further intimated that the legislation was designed to, as he put it, ‘engender public confidence’ in the gaming sector. Sadly to say, the prime minister has failed on both fronts.

“Clearly, the response from the church and other sectors of the country disproves the PM’s assertion that he truly listened to the dissenting voice on this issue. Instead, it suggests a desire to repay the web shop owners the reported millions contributed to the PLP’s election campaign and further highlights the utter distrust that Bahamians feel toward this administration.”

Comments

asiseeit 5 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Munroe needs to shut up. The people of the Bahamas said NO to web shops so the sweetheart deal is that the government has thrown democracy out the window to appease the illicit web shops. The other sweetheart deal is the fact that they where allowed to flourish and where not thrown in jail. Illegal is illegal no matter what you say you slime bucket.

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John 5 years, 9 months ago

Grow up..and get over it the web shops have been legalized

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EasternGate 5 years, 9 months ago

The PLP is so full of shit! How can they charge these people exorbitant fees in supposedly back taxes, and do nothing to collect the 500 million owed in property and BEC bills? What can u expect from these Gangsters, when they make a bill ducker GG

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 9 months ago

The same clients who bought the election with millions of dollars in cash and prizes? And even more millions on the referendum and fodder for the referendum horse? Can't be the same clients complaining about a measly 25 million

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Regardless 5 years, 9 months ago

If Scotland was run by this government, then it would have separated from the UK despite the No vote yesterday. It would have just been an "opinion poll".

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NoNoNo 5 years, 9 months ago

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

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TalRussell 5 years, 9 months ago

Roll me over lay me down and tickle me again. Comrade Wayne says he millionaire numbers clients is "unhappy?" The real look of everyday unhappiness can be seen on the faces the thousands of innocent little children being left in back seats of the cars parked outside while their reckless parents be's gambling away their groceries, rent and school books monies inside them web shops.

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Altalk 5 years, 9 months ago

now that there legalize..they can perhaps operate out of turks island or haiti and the gubment gets nothing

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duppyVAT 5 years, 9 months ago

The webshop boys may turn out to be PLP killers .............. they are pirates .............. they have no allegiance .................. its about the money ............. I agree with Altalk

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TheMadHatter 5 years, 9 months ago

Oh those poor web-shop owners. Man, I just can't stop crying for them.

As a token of concern and a genuine desire to help them, however, I offer up my bank account for exchange with any of the owners. They can have my account and I will take theirs.

It's the least I can do for my POOR brethren.

TheMadHatter

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Elcott2506Coleby 5 years, 9 months ago

The CFATF is scheduled to conduct a risk assessment of the Bahamas' financial in 2015. The online gaming sector will be included in that national. It would be totally irresponsible for the government, any government for that matter, to allow the webshop gaming sector to remain unregulated in the circumstances. The Central Bank, the Compliance Commission and the US State Department have ALL raised red flags about this vexing issue. The government has made a policy decision to legalize and regulate this industry. It was the correct policy decision as it will ensure the integrity of the financial services sector and protect the international reputation of The Bahamas.

To remain a sitting duck and do nothing....well that is foolish and that is being "full of shit." As for the critics who oppose this government policy on gaming, not one, no not one was capable of offering a viable alternative. Thank God the PLP and Perry Christie were governing this country at this time because based on what the critics have been saying, this country was heading for blacklisting of our second largest industry.

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DEDDIE 5 years, 9 months ago

It was people like Coleby who jump through hoops when the FATF threaten us with blacklisting over our off-shore-banking regime. Guess what Coleby, the regulation they required us to implement destroyed off-shore-banking.You miss the point Coleby, your sentence should read thank God the PLP and Christie administration went against those ignorant Bahamian people. You will be saying the exact same thing if they went against a general election result. Remember, even coups have supporters among the population. You fit the description.

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TheMadHatter 5 years, 9 months ago

Just so my fans can be aware - some of my posts (and some new content) are now being hosted at http://r6827.blog.com">http://r6827.blog.com thank you.

TheMadHatter

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PKMShack 5 years, 9 months ago

Sure the deal is a bad one! they help put it together and with a few words most believe that the deal is a bad one, sure Mr. Lawyer sure, AND with these guys track record you think that they are now going to stand up against them with no dog in the race, sure. AND once again most fall for the simple words and believe, THINK PEOPLE THINK take it with a grain of salt. If the deal is so bad why not move their business elsewhere?

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CommonSense 5 years, 9 months ago

Tell Sebas and Flowers to stop crying like they don't make MILLIONS off of these same numbers. These fees are nothing to them.

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John 5 years, 9 months ago

IF the government is backdating taxes and license fees five years then it means that they must return any and all cash money, computers or other assets seized during the last five years. Furthermore the government must reverse and expunge any criminal charges relative to numbers gaming any of the operators may have gotten over the past five years because by charging fees and licenses they are 'de facto' saying that the web shops were legal for five years.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 9 months ago

Interesting point, when was Flowers convicted? No person with a criminal record can hold a license.

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