By Fay Simmons
Tribune Business Reporter
The Gaming Board's executive chairman yesterday indicated that casinos are open to Bahamians gaming at their resorts as the deputy prime minister conceded the separation from web shops is growing "thin".
Dr Daniel Johnson, referring to discussions on ending the discrimination that bars Bahamians from gaming in hotel casinos, said: “It's a proposal and we're sending this around to our industry partners now. These industry partners, I think, the initial response has been excellent. The large fixed-base casinos are indicating that they want Bahamians and permanent residents to be able to come in and wager.”
He added that if the proposed changes are made, tourists will also be able to gamble in web shops. "The proposed regulations go in both directions. So, it is the removal of discrimination against anyone in The Bahamas," Dr Johnson said.
"And that means that if someone is at Sandals on Cable Beach, they can go across the street and go to a local gaming house. Everybody Wins, Island Luck, Chances, AsureWin, whatever and vice versa... Bahamians will be able to go to other places if they wish to game and sit down and game.”
Chester Cooper, deputy prime minister, said both components of the Bahamian gaming sector are performing well and the separation between the two is growing thin.
He said: “In The Bahamas there are two sectors of gaming - casino gaming and what we refer to as gaming houses. Both sectors attract different clientele. But casino players are often looking for more high-end bets with greater stakes, and more modest players being able to turn comparatively small bets into exponentially higher wins, but both niches of the gaming sector serve their clientele well.
"However, there is a need to ensure that both sectors are performing at their peak. Number house gaming was born of innovation, and great buy-in was given by the leaders in that industry to ensure a revolutionary Bill was passed by the Government. But the barriers between these two sectors are growing thinner and may one day fall away.”
Dr Johnson also mentioned the development of standalone casinos on the Family Islands, and indicated that this makes allowances for Freeport, Abaco and Exuma.
He said: “We also have a very unique opportunity coming, which is our Family Island experience that we're not wanting it to be as it always was. So, you may see Family Island casinos that will now request that they have a boutique set-up, where they would like anyone to be able to game in those areas.”
“The proposal speaks to Freeport, Abaco and Exuma. They may wish to have a casino where anyone above the proper age, and of the right financial status, would be able to attend and participate in that entertainment experience.”