By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Web shop licences will be issued on October 15, the Minister of Tourism confirmed yesterday, although he was unable to say how many companies will receive them.
“We will issue the first set of licences on October 15,” Obie Wilchcombe, who had responsibility for gaming, told Tribune Business. “We’re completing this transition period. I will be issuing a statement very soon, but October 15 will be the date for licences.”
Nine companies applied for web shop licences: 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 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.
“Those who did not want to participate in the transition period are going to have to shut down because we are going to be giving a date for that as well,” Mr Wilchcombe said.
“The first thing we will issue on October 15 will be what they call continual gaming licences; gaming operator licences which allow you to operate the casinos, because there is still more work to be done, but that is the first thing we will do,” he added:
“I’m not sure of the numbers yet; how many we will issue. I’m still waiting for that information.”
The Government previously projected that it would collect $20 million in web shop taxes annually.