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Gaming Houses Cry Foul On Shutdown

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

ts-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

THE Bahamas Gaming Operators Association said it has been “left totally confused” by the government’s “discriminatory” policy which blocks web shops from offering curbside services to patrons.

The re-closure of the gaming industry, BGOA said, will further drive up the ballooning unemployment rate — which is set to exceed 30 percent — from an already challenged private sector labour force.

During a national address on Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said phase 1B of his economic reopening plan was never meant to allow gaming houses to reopen and only applied to retail businesses that could offer curbside pick up and delivery without the need for direct person-to-person physical contact or face-to-face interactions.

“They were never intended to apply to the operations of gaming houses, and this is now made abundantly clear by the provisions of part B of the order,” Dr Minnis said Sunday. “Those provisions specifically state that permission to engage in home delivery and curbside pickup services do not apply to gaming house operators.”

In response, BGOA said in a statement released yesterday: “This seems like ‘deja vu’ when it comes to the domestic gaming industry – another singling out and discriminatory public policy imposed, while other similar sectors are allowed favourable treatment.”

BGOA noted what it calls “preferential treatment” being made by allowing some sectors, like liquor stores, to open using curbside service and delivery.

“It was the public health officials’ previous recommendation that due to the high level of comorbidity or underlying health conditions (ie hypertension, diabetes) resident amongst a high number of our citizens that consumption of alcohol may have led to an increase risk of COVID-19 cases due to the potential weakening of one’s immune system,” the BGOA statement continued. “We wonder if the data has now changed relative to that public health safety position. This then begs the question of what are the public health concerns for not allowing curbside service for domestic gaming operations, which were limited to deposits, withdrawals, over the counter-ticket sales and bill payments.”

The BGOA explained that patrons were not allowed to enter any gaming establishment or engage in physical gaming activity other than through online means. It also said that the gaming industry had not been consulted or asked for input as to how it would have offered curbside or drive-through services.

The BGOA is a non-profit organisation that represents the majority of the licensees of the domestic gaming industry. Its members include: Island Luck, A Sure Win, Percy’s Island Game, Ultra Games and Paradise Games.

“The domestic gaming industry operators are licensed entities operating in a highly regulated environment and pay tens of millions of dollars in taxes and fees to the government on an annual basis,” BGOA added.

Approximately 3,000 Bahamians are employed in the gaming industry, many of whom, according to BGOA, were excited to return to work, regain their ability to earn an income and meet their personal and family obligations. However, the BGOA said that just after a week of offering curbside and drive-through only services and strictly adhering to the social distancing and sanitation protocols, the hopes of those 3,000 plus employees have been dashed once again.

“If any sector in The Bahamas was more advanced and equipped technologically to offer such a service while maintaining strict adherence to social and sanitation protocols it would be domestic gaming,” the association said. “The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association (BGOA), therefore, invites the competent authority to meet with the industry to discuss how we can address the government’s intent to ease the economic crisis, in its phased reopening of the economy and adhering to all the public safety protocols, in order to get our employees back to work and mitigate against the rising tide of unemployment and all that it represents.”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Gambling is a most serious addiction that has destroyed the lives of so many individuals and their families. And unlike liquor, cigarettes, etc. which are very heavily taxed, the web shop owners/operators are very much under-taxed in relation to the harm they cause to our society.

The greedy likes of Sebas Bastian and Craig Flowers would love nothing better than to experience a windfall of profits from all of the government assistance that's now being given to so many by way of direct NIB payments or emergency orders to private sector businesses to defer the receipt of payments they are entitled to eventually receive. Many who are benefiting from all of this assistance are gambling addicts and regular patrons of the web shops.

These gambling addicts would rather play the numbers than buy food and medicine for themselves and their family members. Minnis should have long ago repealed all of the legislation that was wrongfully put in place to 'legalize' the webshops against the wishes of the Bahamian people expressed in a duly held national referendum.

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 3 weeks ago

They should be kept closed until this is over. This is one service our country does not need in the pandemic.

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Sickened 2 months, 3 weeks ago

How many not addicted gamblers (or many grabbing ex-criminal owners) give a crap about these number houses? Keep them closed.

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DDK 2 months, 3 weeks ago

THE GAMBLING SHOPS ARE FOUL. KEEP 'EM LOCKED DOWN. As with other addictions there is no half-way for gamblers. Hobby Horse Hall was closed for the same reason decades ago. Do our corrupt politicians never learn ANYTHING?

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tetelestai 2 months, 3 weeks ago

You do realize that by keeping them closed, Bahamians will not be working and receiving salary during this time? So, they cant feed families, pay mortgages, contribute to VAT payments, etc.?

Which then means that most of them will lean on the government for support, this straining the already stretched resources...thus causing the government to borrow more money, thus increasing our debt... Not sure that cutting off your nose (causing additional unemployment) to spite your face (closing numbers houses) is the best move at this time.
And that's before we even get to the question as to whether the government can legally keep the gaming houses closed.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Sadly most gambling addicts fail to realize the gaming web shops owned and operated by the numbers bosses are very much a 'rigged game'. At any time the sleasy likes of Bastian and Flowers are able to change the win-loss probabilities behind their electronic numbers games to lower the loss-payouts in order to achieve their very greedy profit goals at the expense of their fleeced patrons.

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Porcupine 2 months, 3 weeks ago

There is no way that the gambling houses produce more jobs than they cost our society. Money that would otherwise would be flowing through legitimate businesses that actually produce something of value for our country, has leaked out of the real economy and into the pockets of those who simply do not need anymore. Especially in this time of crisis. Quit pretending that you are most concerned for your workers. that we are all in this together. Everyone with their eyes open understands that the owners of the web shops are never satisfied with enough. What is the definition of a vampire squid?

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 3 weeks ago

the problem with gaming is it sucks money out of the economy and doesn't produce anything worthwhile in return. "vampire" is an adequate definition

but I do find it strange that nobody noticed they were open for five days. Makes me wonder if someone didnt get their payment

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DaGoobs 2 months, 3 weeks ago

So these parasitic, blood sucking gaming or webshop people want believe they should be exempt from the lockdown order and allowed to continue on sucking money out of people? That they are being singled out and victimised? Tell these vampires to shut up and sit small. They lucky they even got licenses to run the business that they got because they never should have gotten licenses in the first place. Imagine, giving licenses to run gaming businesses to a bunch of people who was breaking the law for a bunch of years before getting their licenses and making money hand over fist before and after. I don't see what they do for the economy except maybe pay some low-level taxes on their ill-gotten gains. In this time of COVID 19, NIB and government would be stupid to be giving our tax dollars to people who out of jobs because of the virus for them to go up or down the road from NIB and gamble it away at a webshop. Besides, these guys were never really closed. Yes, the bricks and mortar buildings might have been closed to walk-in customers but their online gaming business hasn't stopped running because of the virus. If you want to gamble with them, then all their customers who have online accounts continued gaming online. Sebas and them should count themselves as lucky. Every one of the gaming licenses should have either been sold at auction to the highest bidders or anyone who wanted to and has the financial and other capacity to run a webshop should have been allowed to apply for a license. Also, the government was shortsighted. They should be licensing shopkeepers and others to sell scratch-off cards or sell numbers for the webshops and make a commission like how the phone companies allow people to top-up anywhere. The country is not making the kind of tax money out of this so-called industry that it could.

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DDK 2 months, 3 weeks ago

That's it Porcupine. It's just a whine to help the cause of these parasites. It's rather like the mafia saying 'look how many jobs we create, leave us to our own devices'. Close 'em down and keep 'em closed!!

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