The Bahamas House of Assembly to discuss New Remote Gambling Bill

According to the Bahamas Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, there is a great likelihood that a new remote gambling bill will be discussed in The Bahamas House of Assembly this week, the Nassau Guardian reports.

Assessed as a controversial legal act, the draft bill is directed towards the tourist industry. While it lifts a ban that disallowed work permit holders and permanent residents from gambling, the bill specifically prohibits Bahamian citizens from taking part in gambling activities.

The industry stakeholders submitted a proposal titled "Guide to modernization of casino regulations in The Bahamas" to The Bahamian Government demanding that the Government "allow permanent residents, holders of short- and long-term work visas to participate in casino gaming, subject to payment of an appropriate levy to the government" based on the justification "allowing wealthy permanent residents to gamble locally would keep gaming taxes in the country".

Underlining that the law needs to be equitable, Wilchcombe stated: "We haven't yet signed off on what we are taking to Parliament. We have to make sure it's done in a way that it is equitable, so even if we decide [to allow it], it may not be done tomorrow. Matters are still being discussed".

Nonetheless, Wilcombe repeated that Bahamian citizens will not be prohibited from applying for and receiving casino licences even though the law will prohibit them from gambling.

"Nothing stops Bahamians from owning casinos and jumping into the industry. That's where they ought to be thinking now. How can we pool our resources?", Wilcombe added.

Provided that the law comes in force, players outside The Bahamas will be able to gamble online or via mobile on a platform established, maintained and operated by the holder of a local gaming licence, under the condition that the players are located in a country or jurisdiction allowing e-gambling.

The Nassau Guardian article further reports that several types of licences under the new Gaming Act would include gaming, proxy gaming, restricted interactive gaming and junket operator licenses.

Prospective licencees would be required to prove expertise in managing and operating casinos in a regulated environment, or demonstrable access to such expertise. Additionally, the potential licencee would have to be in good financial standing and have adequate means to start and sustain the activity for which the licence is awarded.

Based on a proxy gaming license, the operator would be allowed to conduct gaming using any communications technology, including over the Internet. In case of the restricted interactive gaming license, players outside The Bahamas would be allowed to gamble via a website established by the holder of a local gaming license. Finally, the junket operator license would enable visits to casino resorts of 20 or more visitors on an excursion to a casino resort – also known as "junket visitors”.

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