By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
WITH less than ten days before the expected issuance of web shop licenses, Island Luck CEO Sebas Bastian yesterday said he remains “optimistic” that his company will be among those selected to receive a license to operate legally in the country.
Mr Bastian also said he was not upset at the length of time it has taken for the government to issue the licenses, stating that anything shorter “would have been skipping a few steps.” He added that the government had done a commendable job in managing the web shop industry’s transition into a legal sector.
Last month, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, the minister responsible for gaming, said web shop licenses would be issued on October 15. However, Mr Wilchcombe did not say which of the nine companies that have submitted a request for proposal (RFP) will be awarded a license.
That came roughly three months after Mr Wilchcombe told The Tribune that the government had extended the web shop industry’s transition period to an unspecified date due to the “amount of work that must be reviewed and assessed.”
When questioned yesterday as to whether he had heard anything recently pertaining to the issuance of web shop licenses, Mr Bastian said: “I have no clue or insight as to how or what will unfold on the 15th or if it’s still on. Just got to wait and see, we remain optimistic and we’ll see what happens.”
When asked if he was disappointed in the length of time it has taken the government to issue the licenses, Mr Bastian said: “Not at all. I think they’re doing the right thing, doing it the right way. Anything shorter I think would have been skipping a few steps. This is a very thorough and intense process and I think they’re doing a commendable job.”
Nine companies have applied for web shop licenses – Bahama Dreams, FML Web Shop, Bet Vegas, A Sure Win, Paradise Games, Island Luck, Percy’s at the Island Game, Asue Draw + Spin, and Chances Games.
Those nine operators were approved to operate during the transitional period. To remain open, web shops were required to pay their tax arrears for the period July 1 to November 24, 2014, no later than December 1.
They were then given until December 8, 2014 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, and who reside in the Bahamas will qualify for licensing as a gaming house operator. As part of the request for proposal (RFP) process, web shops were required to provide their financials, and the Gaming Board has been investigating these applications since March 10.
The government previously projected that it would collect $20m in web shop taxes annually.