Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe said it could take months before the final licences for web shop operators are issued.
Craig Flowers, head of the FML Group of Companies, told The Tribune recently that operators can’t move forward to challenge the decision of Canadian banks to refuse their money and business because the process for receiving a gaming house operator license has not yet been completed.
Mr Flowers seemed exasperated by the length of time it is taking for the process to be completed.
Eight web shop operators were awarded conditional gaming house operator licenses in October 2015, including FML Web Shop, A Sure Win, Chances Games, Paradise Games, Island Luck, Percy’s at the Island Game, Asue Draw + Spin and Bahama Dreams.
Asked yesterday when the plenary licenses will be issued, Mr Wilchcombe said: “The final license will be issued several months from now. What we’re doing now is using the preliminary license to ensure certain other things are in place before you end up with the final license but in all likelihood those who have licenses now will get the licenses in the end.
“Part of the process is that we are still looking at zoning to ensure that everyone complies with what we’re asking. We have to ensure that matters pertaining to their services are all in place. We have to ensure that they have in place things required, such as security measures which have to be in place. All these things have to be in place as part of the buildup to the final stage. We feel good about where we are now. One thing’s for sure is all those who have received licenses to this point have demonstrated a high level of professionalism to help us get to where we want to be. They are paying their taxes as well.”
As part of anti-crime and anti-corruption efforts, Canadian banks operating here have refused to work with the previously unregulated gaming sector.
Mr Flowers told The Tribune last year that a body of web shop operators would likely sue the banks over this decision once licenses are issued, saying it amounted to discrimination.
Former State Minister for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez agreed, telling this newspaper that he thought it would be a good decision to sue the banks.