By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
‘Final’ web shop licences could be issued next month, the Minister of Tourism said yesterday.
Obie Wilchcombe, who has responsibility for gaming, told Tribune Business: “We should issue those licenses next month. We are very near completion on all the work we had to do. I expect an announcement on that in the next four weeks.”
As to the zoning regulations designed to curb the proliferation of gaming houses, Mr Wilchcombe added: “We have even been working on that as well. We have been looking at all the circumstances and ongoing situations, and how to ensure that those persons who have contractual arrangements are not put in a diminished position.”
The Gaming Board, the industry’s regulator, in a newspaper advertisement back in February said the Gaming House Premises licensing process had reduced the number of web shop locations nationwide by 44 per cent.
Some operators, though, questioned the feasibility of the zoning regulations, particularly on an island as densely populated as New Providence, where all eight licensed chains have a significant presence.
The eight companies which have received a conditional web shop gaming license are the FML Group of Companies trading as (t/a) FML Webshop; GLK Ltd t/a A Sure Win; Jarol Investments Ltd t/a Chances Games; Paradise Games Bahamas Ltd t/a Paradise Games; Playtech Systems Ltd t/a Island Luck; T.I.G Investments Ltd t/a Percy’s at The Island Game; The Four Point Group Trading t/a Asue Draw + Spin; and Bahama Dream Web Café Ltd t/a Bahama Dreams. Bet Vegas is the only operator to be denied a license, a decision the company is challenging.
The Gaming Board also called for the police to “affect the overdue closure” of Bet Vegas, the only operator not to receive a conditional license.
But Bet Vegas’s president, Anthony Brown, has vowed that he will not walk away from his investment, and is challenging the regulator’s decision through the courts.
“I have created businesses in this country for over 15 years,” he said. “I have paid more in taxes to the Government of the Bahamas during my twenties than most government officials have earned legitimately in the last 10 years. No politician will ever deny me my right to compete in any industry in this country.”