By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
ISLAND Luck Chief Executive Sebas Bastian yesterday said he was “optimistic” his company would become a “successful applicant” in its bid to obtain a gaming house operator’s licence.
Formally announcing Island Luck’s Request For Proposal (RFP) submission yesterday morning, Mr Bastian said he was “hopeful” his company would be one of those that would, upon receipt of the licence, be allowed to operate legally in the country.
Mr Bastian said his company has applied for the gaming house operator’s licence, premises licence and to be “the agents to operate those licences.”
He spoke at a press conference outside of the Gaming Board.
Mr Bastian said the process of applying for the licence has been the “eight longest weeks of our lives.”
“It’s been a long, long journey, and we’re just excited that we’re at the last phase of our journey now, and we remain optimistic, hopeful that we’ve put together our best proposal,” Mr Bastian said.
“Sixty binders, 35,000 pages later we finally were able to submit our RFP this morning. It was information dating back 20 years that I had to remember, but nonetheless it was part of the process. We’re just excited that this process is now in its final phase, but for us now it’s just a waiting game and hopefully we’ll become successful applicants.”
Mr Bastian’s announcement came on the deadline for web shops to submit their bids for licences, which is part of the transition to a legalised web shop industry. The previous deadline was February 20, but was reportedly extended due to the government and web shop operators not yet resolving their differences on how the sector’s taxes are to be calculated.
Last week, Mr Bastian confirmed that the deadline extension was due to a “discrepancy on the back taxes and the interpretation of what turnover is.”
Yesterday, Mr Bastian said his company had spent an estimated $200,000 just preparing the RFP documents, and millions in back taxes.
Additionally, he said Island Luck had to compile and submit background information, such as identification, ownership structures, the company’s business and community benefit plans, as well as disaster recovery layout and design.
“It was a lot of work,” he said. “At first I was a little bit discouraged by the figures I was getting, I thought I was being taken advantage of. But after seeing 30,000 pages plastered over a room, and the countless hours that went into the process, I think it was money well spent.
“We’ve contributed in the millions and a fair share in our opinion of the process, and like I’ve always said there’s no guarantees, and you have to pay to play,” he added.
In order to remain open during the transitional period, web shops were required to pay their tax arrears for the period July 1 to November 24, 2014, no later than December 1.
Operators were then given until December 8 to lodge sworn affidavits with the secretary of the Gaming Board, in which they disclosed whether they wished to operate their businesses during the transitional period.
Only companies that are 100 per cent owned by Bahamian citizens, who reside in The Bahamas, will qualify for licencing as a gaming house operator.
Last month, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said the government expects to announce within a few months the operators successful in obtaining gaming house operator licences.