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Ten-Year Limit On Web Shops

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe announced in a statement yesterday that the government has decided to limit the number of gaming house operator licenses granted in The Bahamas to eight, a number that will be reviewed after a ten-year period.

Web shop bosses, who form the Gaming House Operators Association, advocated for this, urging the government to place a moratorium on the granting of new operator licenses out of concern that the industry would otherwise become saturated.

Mr Wilchcombe compared the government’s decision to the restriction on the number of casino operations allowed in New Providence and Grand Bahama.

However, the restriction does not prevent the minister from issuing a request for proposal (RFP) for a gaming house operator license in the event that an existing operator loses its license for some reason.

Importantly, no such moratorium has been placed on the number of web shop houses that will be allowed to exist in the country or on the number of such houses each operator will be allowed to have.

This allows the Gaming Board and the government to have the flexibility to “react appropriately to the development of the industry,” Mr Wilchcombe said.

Some operators, like FML Group of Companies CEO Craig Flowers, had encouraged the government to impose restrictions on how many number houses each licensed operator is allowed to have.

A restriction on gaming house operator licenses “will not preclude the Gaming Board from issuing another RFP in the context of gaming house premises licenses,” Mr Wilchcombe said yesterday. “It thus will remain open to existing industry stakeholders to apply for further gaming house premises licenses during the stipulated period if another RFP, inviting applications for gaming house premises licenses, is issued by the (Gaming) Board during that time.

“If it appears that the market is adequately served by the number of distribution of existing licensed locations, then no RFP for gaming house premises licenses will be issued during the relevant period, whereas if there is an objective need for the licensing of premises (whether in general or in particular areas), then an RFP may be issued inviting applications.”

Zoning

A key objective of the newly released regulations on gaming house premises licenses is to minimise negatives impacts on communities as well as negative impacts on the objectives and activities of places of worship, schools, premises where video or similar games may be played by people, or premises at which pensions or welfare payments are collected.

The regulations say that no gaming house can be located “immediately adjacent, at any property line, to a property whose dominant use is residential, unless zoned to be multi-use (commercial and residential).”

In addition, the regulations say no gaming house can be located “within 100 feet of a place of worship, school, games arcade or premises at which pensions or welfare payments are collected.”

Gaming houses can also not be located “within 100 feet of any other licensed gaming house premise, unless the Gaming Board expressly determines there is good cause to conclude that proximity to another licensed gaming house of less than 100 feet does not offend the character of the area in which the premises is located and the need to prevent over-proliferation of gaming house premises in any area.”

Web shops will not be required to move if they existed prior to schools and such aforementioned institutions later emerging within 100 feet of them.

Mr Wilchcombe said about 635 web shops existed at the start of the industry’s regularisation process. By June 2016, there were 372 such locations that had been licensed, with 31 pending.

“This will result in a total of approximately 403 licensed locations in the country, which equates to a 36.5 per cent reduction in the number of locations that were active at the commencement of the regularisation process.

“It appears that as a result of the compressed timeframes within which the process was required to be completed, at the time the existing gaming house premises and agencies were licensed, it was not possible for the (Gaming) Board to have regard to zoning requirements, as there was a lack of clarity regarding the same,” the statement noted.

Nine companies applied for gaming house licenses when the government began to regulate the sector and eight were later provided conditional licenses.

They are Island Luck, Nassau Games, Percy’s Island Games, A Sure Win, Chances, Paradise Games, Bahama Dreams and Asue Draw.

However Asue Draw later announced it will not renew its gaming house operator license for 2016-2017.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

These gaming web shops run by racketeering thugs are engaged in all kinds of activities that must still be considered illegal. They are sucking enormous sums of money out of our local economy and wreaking havoc on our Central Bank's ability to properly monitor and control foreign currency flows, as they nefariously seek to launder their ill-gotten profits in other jurisdictions. Right now only Bank of The Bahamas (BoB) will take deposits from these crooked thugs. BoB then attempts to place (in its own name) the hoards of cash received from the web shops with other local banks. All of this is causing mayhem as regards our BSD money supply and the excess BSD liquidity now being carried by most of our local banks. There's even ridiculous talk now by Crooked Christie of the need to grant unrestricted banking licenses to Craig Flowers and Sebas Bastian (the main two thugs behind the web shops). This will surely cause the legitimate foreign owned banks operating in our country to flee and undoubtedly result in the Bahamas being entirely cut-off from correspondent banking relationships with the highly regulated global banking community. All of this will quickly come to pass if Bahamian voters are foolish enough to allow Crooked Christie to remain as PM. Fat-headed Obie Wilchcombe is no doubt now well-fed from the pockets of the numbers bosses and therefore must also be shown the exit-door in the next general election.

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John 2 years, 2 months ago

Those who run the central banks around the world are trying to inventory and monitor every dollar on the planet to the point that they want to know how much money you have in your pocket and how much you left home on your dresser. They claim they are doing it to stop money laundering and the funding of terrorism. Obviously the web shops have thrown a wrench in this project and so the move is on to push towards a cashless economy. World wide.

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Craig 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't agree with Web Shops. The government has made "legitimate" businessmen out of criminals. That said, this move is protectionist and exclusionary. They have effectively placed a very deep and wide moat around this industry. This will inevitably benefit the existing players tremendously, who will continue to be enriched. The Web Shop "businessmen" could not ask for a better scenario. No new competition will be allowed into the market for at least 10 years. Wow. Where do they get these ideas from? Who is advising them? Perhaps these Web Shop "businessmen" themselves are advising. We have got to elect politicians that are competent and not corrupt.

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Honestman 2 years, 2 months ago

There is a huge elephant in the room and no one seems to be addressing it. No matter how you dress it up, web shop money in the eyes of major international banks is illegitimate. BoB can happily absorb all this ill gotten money but the big banks won't touch it and so all Flowers et al are doing is moving their cash from one private vault to another.

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Craig 2 years, 2 months ago

They already have the answer. Buy or build large expensive homes and sell them legitimately. Open development companies and invest in real estate, office buildings, condos, malls, etc. and collect rent and sell condos. Where there is a will... These people are going to become the first set of Bahamian billionaires. Former numbers people. What a joke

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

Once these web shop thugs crowd (or squeeze) out the legitimate banks and businesses, thereby effectively destroying our real economy, they will be left with only themselves to both lend to and buy and sell from. There will eventually be massive unemployment as the numbers bosses and their employees will be only ones able to buy numbers and place bets in the gaming web shops. These types of criminal organizations simply cannot survive without a legal real economy that they can steal from to gain their illegal profits. The likes of Sebas Bastian and Craig Flowers are akin to leeches sucking greedily on their host (our real economy) until they eventually kill it and are left to die themselves. It truly is a type of parasitic relationship, but one with a very bad ending for the host. The sad part is, Crooked Christie and equally corrupt Fat-Headed Wilchcombe are in the pockets of these numbers' thugs and simply don't care that all of us will be flushed down the proverbial toilet at the end of the day.

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observer2 2 years, 2 months ago

We have so many plagues wrecking havoc with us. Toxic dump smoke, Bunker C oil water pollution at Clifton, crime, webshops and corruption.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 2 months ago

Well, Bradley Roberts just said he needed four million dollars for the PLP election campaign. Approved.

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DDK 2 years, 2 months ago

It would certainly be interesting to learn what the opposition parties have to say about these so-called web shops. Why has no one called for a LEGITIMATE government-run lottery with drawings limited to once or twice a week? ALL profit should go to back to the people in the form of education, health, infrastructure, etc. and the operation and its financials would have to be transparent. Of course, it would not work with a crooked government.

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Sickened 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm trying to teach my kids to study, get good jobs and become a success. All the while, our society is teaching them to first become successful criminals and THEN you can become a legitimate successful businessman.

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Craig 2 years, 2 months ago

Sebas, a true Bahamian success story, from criminal to businessman!!

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Reality_Check 2 years, 2 months ago

@mudda_sic: You are probably right in saying that Perry Christie as minister of finance and John Rolle as governor of our central bank plan to give banking licenses to both Sebas Bastian and Craig Flowers. This will likely be the quid pro quo for these two numbers' bosses bank rolling a large portion of the PLP party's general election campaign costs. It also explains why both Bastian and Flowers have recently bought and commenced construction on large parcels of ideally located land in high traffic areas which would allow for plenty of parking. Bastian and Flowers seem confident Christie will win the next general election or that whomever does win will not interfere with them obtaining licenses to conduct banking business. Knowing Christie as we all do, he might even try sell the shareholdings in Bank of The Bahamas held by the government and the national insurance fund to Bastian and Flowers for mere pennies on the dollar after the next large injection of capital at either the taxpayers' or national insurance fund contributors' expense.

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Gotoutintime 2 years, 2 months ago

If Flowers is running the Bank, my money is under the mattress!

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Reality_Check 2 years, 2 months ago

Laws passed by a corrupt government purporting to 'legalize' the criminal racketeering activities of well-known thugs in no way makes such activities legal or the criminals behind them innocent of their crimes. By every globally accepted definition, standard and measure of what is considered legal vs illegal in the world today, especially as regards the global financial community, the racketeering and other criminal activities conducted by the likes of Sebas Bastian and Craig Flowers are illegal. Just like Perry Christie's PLP government cannot pass a law that makes murdering someone 'legal', his government cannot make innocent men out of the criminal thugs like Bastian and Flowers. It's really as simple as that, but the very warped minds of our PM and AG cannot understand this most basic fact.

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BahamaPundit 2 years, 2 months ago

Where is the VAT money? PLP got time for doing everything but telling the truth!

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Porcupine 2 years, 2 months ago

This is perhaps the saddest story of all times. Who cannot see where our country is headed? An unmitigated tragedy.

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Honestman 2 years, 2 months ago

Who cannot see where our country is headed?

People like Birdiestrachan and all the other pathetic and deluded PLP apologists.

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Mayaguana34 2 years, 2 months ago

What a joke of a country we have. Instead of opting for a lottery to directly fund sports, schools or our recurrent deficits we decide to enrich and then protect 8 individuals. Individuals that admittedly broke our laws are now legitimized and benefit from a ten year moratorium. UNFlicking believable. Then we turn around and the Government signs long term leases on their buildings, we turn a blind eye to the private mortgages in the west and now talking about banking licenses??? Y'all better pray that Moody's doesn't figure this mess out - correspondent banking is only the beginning ...#ishame

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