Bahamians to apply for casino license
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: May 03, 2013
A group of Bahamian businessmen is in the process of applying for a casino license, The Nassau Guardian has learned.
Chartered accountant Philip Galanis yesterday revealed that the group intends to make an announcement regarding its application in the near future.
In the lead up to the January 28 gambling referendum, Galanis was a co-ordinator for the ‘Vote Yes’ campaign.
However, he did not reveal the names of the businessmen seeking to apply for the license.
On Sunday, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, who has responsibility for gaming, said Bahamians should consider getting into the casino business.
He pointed out that there is nothing in law that stops them from applying for casino licenses.
Wilchcombe was speaking in context of the raging
debate over a draft Gaming Bill that would make it legal for work permit holders and permanent residents to gamble in casinos.
If the bill is brought in its current form, it would continue to be illegal for Bahamians to gamble.
Asked if he thinks that it is feasible for the businessmen’s application to be approved, Galanis said, “Absolutely”.
“It’s just as feasible for Atlantis or Baha Mar to be approved to operate a casino,” Galanis said.
“I think it’s feasible for any number of Bahamian groups to be able to participate in gaming.
“I feel very strongly about that. I don’t think that there is any area of economic activity in this country where Bahamians should be excluded.”
While Galanis did not want to divulge information regarding his clients, he told The Nassau Guardian that so far they have completed one of the many applications necessary to apply for the license.
“Because I’m involved in that group I couldn’t say anything more than that,” Galanis said. “But I think it’s a wonderful thing. It’s long overdue.
“I think Bahamians should be able to operate casinos just as non-Bahamians do and operate within the same regulatory framework that hotels do, and so I’m hopeful that other persons would take the opportunity to do so.
“They want to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to all persons. Just as Bahamians don’t own any major hotels, I think we should.
“Groups are being formed as we speak and hopefully will be successful in being able to engage in large hotels as I hope they will be engaged in ownership and operation of casino gambling.”
Under the current Lotteries and Gaming Act, a casino license may be granted to an individual or to a company “incorporated under a law in force in The Bahamas”.
The law states that licences will not be granted to a person who is not a resident of The Bahamas or was not a resident for a 10-year period immediately preceding the date on which the application was made.
Licenses will also not be granted to any individual or to any company whose director has ever been convicted of an offense involving fraud or dishonesty and has not successfully appealed the conviction to the satisfaction of the minister responsible for gaming.
The new Gaming Act would provide for several different classes of licenses; among them, gaming, proxy gaming, restricted interactive gaming and junket operator licenses.
In the case of a gaming license, a company must have proven expertise in the management and operation of casinos in a regulated environment or demonstrable access to such expertise.
The company must also be of good financial standing and have adequate means to undertake and sustain the activity for which the license is required.
Only companies that hold a gaming license would qualify for the other classes of license.
The new act would allow casinos to offer online and mobile gaming.
Atlantis, Baha Mar and the Grand Lucayan all have casinos. Another casino is expected to open in Bimini later this year.