THE hiring of former Gaming Board chairman Terah Rahming by Grand Bahama web shop Chances Game has exposed a loophole in gaming legislation.
The recent hire has left officials with grave “concerns”, a Gaming Board insider said yesterday, adding there is little the board can do outside of making recommendations to the Minnis administration as to how the loophole can be closed.
The Gaming Act 2014 does not prohibit employees moving from the regulator into the private sector, giving way to the potential for conflict.
Another insider suggested the issue may have been overlooked because the legislation was rushed under the former government.
“You don’t want somebody sitting down in an office making decisions - number one where they might be conflicting in a year or so and they might be making decisions knowing they will be working for these people in a matter of months. This is something that is just not done because you know what all the household secrets are,” the insider who asked to remain anonymous said yesterday.
“The potential for conflict is palpable and we are surprised that they didn’t deal with that in the legislation. I mean they were rushing, but if you are going to take best practices into account you need to apply it.”
Another board executive close to the matter said: “There are plans to add it in shortly. The board is very concerned about it and will be making recommendations to the minister to plug the loophole.”
The matter has not been the only issue concerning the country’s gaming industry since the Minnis administration took office.
An audit of the Gaming Board is currently underway.
And Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar, who has responsibility for gaming, warned recently that the way in which web shops have been used could land the Bahamas on a financial blacklist.
Earlier this month, the minister said as people increasingly use gaming houses as a means to move money some of the clearing banks are closing branches throughout the Bahamas.
He noted there is worry that this unregulated activity may put the country on an international “black list,” affecting the stability of the country’s banking sector.
While the limited number of gaming houses enjoy the “benefits of being a cartel,” Mr D’Aguilar said the “cash strapped” government should increase tax revenue from this sector, suggesting the Minnis administration could be considering increased taxes for operators.
He prefaced this by saying in reviewing the financial statements of operators, they were receiving “eye popping” profits.
Mr D’Aguilar said the Gaming Board will further push gaming houses to become more creative in controlling out of control gambling.
The former Christie administration legalized the sector in 2014, despite an overwhelming no vote the previous year.