Web shop gaming ‘not caught’ by act
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: May 13, 2013
Attorney Wayne Munroe, who represents a group of web shop operators, claims that his clients’ gaming operations, which consist of the ‘Pick 3’ and ‘Pick 4’ games, are not covered by the Lotteries and Gaming Act.
Munroe filed his clients’ statement of claim in the Supreme Court recently.
“Insofar as persons access sites outside of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to place a wager on the outcome of the ‘Pick 3’ or ‘Pick 4’ games in the various states of the United States of America these games are not caught by the definition of lottery as set out in section 2 of the act,” the court document states.
“Placing a wager on the ‘Pick 3’ or ‘Pick 4’ games in the various states of the United States of America is not and has never been the game called and known as ‘numbers’ as described in the definition of lottery as set out in section 2 of the act.
“There is no provision in the act that prohibits or criminalizes participants in such games when done over the Internet.”
Munroe argues that his clients’ operations are not illegal.
He represents Percy Web Cafe, Island Luck, FML Group of Companies, Asue Draw, Whatfall and Chances.
The court documents say the six web shops “assist members of the public with accessing and using websites domiciled both outside and within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas”.
Munroe argues that his clients had a legitimate expectation that their businesses would have been regulated by the previous administration.
“In late 2010, the Office of the Attorney General was instructed to draft the ‘Computer Wagering Licensing Regulations’, which required pertinent information concerning the business,” according to the document.
“The relevant plaintiffs supplied the government with any and all necessary information required to assist with the drafting of the regulations.
“The plaintiffs revealed every detail concerning the web shop industry to the minister of finance and relevant bodies.
“The plaintiffs will rely on the draft ‘Computer Wagering Licensing Regulations’ for their proposed effect at trail.”
The Court of Appeal on April 17 rejected a bid by attorney Alfred Sears and Munroe to stay a ruling delivered by Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett.
Sir Michael lifted a conservatory order that prevented web shops from being subjected to police interference.
The lawyers secured the conservatory order on January 30, two days after a gambling referendum failed.
Following the referendum, Prime Minister Perry Christie ordered that all web shop gaming cease.
Sears and Munroe argue that Sir Michael erred in his judgment.
The substantive case is expected to be heard on May 24.
Munroe said his clients want to operate their businesses “either unmolested by officials” or ask the court to “direct the executive to regulate the business”.