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Bahamian group expected to apply for casino license soon

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: May 08, 2013

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The group of Bahamians that chartered accountant Philip Galanis represents will submit an application for a casino license to the government within two weeks, the former coordinator for the ‘Vote Yes’ campaign confirmed yesterday.

Galanis said while he is not aware of the group of Bahamians Prime Minister Perry Christie said has already applied for a casino license, he considered them “a competing group for our objectives and plans”.

He said there was a third group of Bahamians that indicated to him its intent to also apply for a casino license.

“Already I know of two, ours and the other one that the prime minister referred to,” Galanis told The Nassau Guardian.

“And I have heard of a third so I am aware that there are possibly three applications that will be made by Bahamians.

“The next step is for us to complete our application process, which we are in the process of doing.”

After a church service at Faith United Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday, Christie said the government is considering a casino license application from another group of Bahamians for a New Providence gaming operation.

He said that group has requested a joint venture agreement. He did not say who the Bahamians are or who they will partner with, if successful.

“Now there are some serious qualifications,” Christie said.

“As you know, for New Providence there is only one other casino license available and that’s South Ocean. That in itself is a major acquisition.

“I have told the people of South Ocean the government will only hold that license in place but for so long because we have another application involving a Bahamian group — that Mr. Galanis is not aware of — that is talking about getting that license and using it elsewhere in New Providence.

“So the fact of the matter is yes, it is fair to anticipate that Bahamians, if they qualify for casino licenses in New Providence and/or the Family Islands, they will be able to be the beneficiary.”

Asked whether his clients were vying for the South Ocean casino license, Galanis responded, “No we are not.” He said his clients are extremely hopeful that their application will be successful.

“They think that there is a decided competitive advantage for them being successful, and they also believe that there is sufficient room for any number of operators,” he said.

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, who has responsibility for gaming, has said the government supports the idea of Bahamians with the capital and proper management team to enter the casino market.

He noted the government wants the gaming sector to grow beyond having casinos attached to hotels and is open to a standalone casino or slot machine parlor, something Galanis suggested his clients are keen on.

The current draft of the 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.

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