Changes In Gambling Coming

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The Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe who is also responsible for gaming laws in The Bahamas announced last week that there is to be a ten year moratorium on web shop gambling in The Bahamas.  This means that there will be no expansion of the number of licensees in The Bahamas for ten years.  The decision was immediately denounced by one of the applicants who had been turned down and a moratorium will probably not stand the test of law.  There was also dissatisfaction from one of the licensees who said that as far as he was concerned the matter was still not resolved.  The existing operators think that there are too many operators.  That is one thing but there is another thing which is developing right before our eyes.  Craig Flowers who runs FML, a web shop operation, said something to the press quoted on Friday 17 March which was interesting and that is that the web shops will continue to have problems banking their monies in the international banks here, even though they have the “know your customer” protocols just as do the banks.  They in fact know their customers in a way banks don’t, he argued.  It led us back to the comment made in the House by Fred Mitchell about the need to licence other banks, local banks. The web shops are becoming bankers, not money lenders but transfer agents for money simply because the banking community here does not serve the needs of the country.  The question Mr. Flowers discussed extensively is with the international climate getting tougher on risk management and how this is this going to affect our banking sector going forward.  Interesting issues.  No one is speaking to that and the public policy which is required.