Gaming Chairman Pushes Yes Vote
By The Bahama Journal
Chairman of The Gaming Board Dr. Andre Rollins indicated yesterday that there is more to be gained from a yes vote than a no vote in the upcoming referendum.
Dr. Rollins in a press release pushed the benefits of a yes vote for The Bahamas saying that the revenue generated from taxing the activity presents greater results for the country.
While Dr. Rollins acknowledges that it has taken far too long for any government to gather the will power to take legal action against web shop gaming in The Bahamas, he claims that it cannot be argued that 50-plus years is insufficient time to know whether or not something should be regulated or taxed for the benefit of our country and people.
“Based on the long history of Bahamian participation in games of chance and the recognition that historical legal restrictions precipitated the creation of illegal gaming enterprises, it is inevitable that the demand for such activity will persist beyond January 28 even in the face of a no vote,” he said.
“The difference is that the government will be under greater pressure to use its law enforcement resources to respond to illegal gaming – resources that are scarce and themselves under increasing pressure to address the scourge of violent crime affecting parts of our country,” he added.
According to the chairman, regularised web shop gaming is critical for the country if it wishes to maintain its standing as a responsible financial services jurisdiction compliant with international anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism best practices.
“Our nation’s financial regulatory regime and the reporting requirements it imposes on businesses engaged in financial services, cannot be effective if it ignores a large group of businesses which conduct significant financial transactions,” he said.
“Our country must be seen to be continuing along a progressive path of reform not just in the eyes of the international community, but also in the eyes of our citizens. The government cannot be perceived as being guilty of engendering a culture where laws are selectively observed and applied; where law enforcement and not justice is blind,” he added.
The Gaming chairman claims that there are number of benefits for the government and the citizens alike to be gained from a ‘yes vote’ and that these ‘good causes’ must be identified.
Dr. Rollins said that regulating gaming for locals would be a new way for the government to create revenue which could be utilised for education purposes like schools and scholarships, healthcare, sports, the disabled, senior citizens, public housing and transportation, historic preservation and youth programmes.
If the outcome of the referendum is no, according to Dr. Rollins it will be an expression of the nation’s wish to deny Bahamians the right to participate in gaming, excluding those persons employed in hotel casinos.
“To continue to allow gaming houses in The Bahamas to exist without appropriate regulatory controls creates the potential for the infiltration of and control by criminal entities, which could very easily produce adverse domestic and international consequences,” he said.
“If Bahamians wish to have access to gaming as a form of entertainment it must be understood that it is unacceptable for it to continue in an unregulated manner. The position of this government must be clear: We cannot regulate the sector in part; it must be regulated as a whole,” he added.
The gambling referendum is scheduled for January 28th, with advanced voting today.
January 21, 2013
The Bahama Journal