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PM suggests Gaming Bill may change

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 24, 2013

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Prime Minister Perry Christie suggested yesterday that there is not a consensus in his party concerning controversial elements of the Gaming Bill that would allow casino operators opportunities that web shop owners cannot lawfully enjoy.

“Members will have an opportunity to speak and as the leader of the government I will have an opportunity to respond,” he said outside the House of Assembly.

“We do know this, the legislation is intended to modernize gaming primarily for people outside of the country in The Bahamas, and to cause there to be a better regulated environment for gaming, more money to be made.

“The issue of discrimination will come up and I’m saying right now we will deal with it.

“For example, if I’m sitting in there and all the members of Parliament get up, the great majority of them get [up] and say we are against this, what do you expect me to do?”

He said that his views would be guided by the debate on the bill.

Christie noted that some people feel very strongly “that we ought not to discriminate against Bahamians”.

“So I know there are all sorts of contradictions,” he said.

“When we come to Parliament, all of those people who have a point of view, will express their point of view, and I will be able to tell you that I am going to listen very

attentively to who is able to speak publically on their position, and I will know what to do when I hear them…to see how much they really believe in what they are saying.”

The new bill was tabled in the House of Assembly last Wednesday.

The bill would allow casino operators to engage in mobile and Internet gaming, a feature that web shops currently offer to customers.

However, the bill would provide for a restricted interactive gaming license.  Under that provision only a current gaming license holder may apply for and be granted a restricted interactive gaming license.

An operator with this license can offer gaming to citizens of permitted foreign jurisdictions or people on the licensed premises who are not lawfully precluded from gaming.

The bill upholds the status quo on gambling and prohibits gaming for any person who is ordinarily resident in The Bahamas; is the holder of a permanent residence certificate; is the holder of a work permit or is the spouse of any of those people.

Christie would not say if the government would withdraw or change the bill if the majority of Parliamentarians voted against it.

“There are views, like I saw [St Anne’s MP Hubert] Chipman express a view about an anti discrimination view. I heard there was a reference by [Tall Pines MP Leslie] Miller, my member, that he’s concerned about that,” he said.

“Even the chairman of the Gaming Board (Fort Charlotte MP Andre Rollins) has philosophically been concerned about it.”

Both Miller and Rollins told The Guardian previously that they would not support a provision in the bill that discriminates against Bahamians participating in online gaming.

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