Tuesday August 19,2014 : BAHAMAS MAKING PROGRESS ON INTERNET GAMBLING
General agreement reached in consultative initiative….but tax comes first.
The Bahamas Tribune reports that a government consultative initiative on the reform of gambling in the Caribbean nation has reached substantive agreement with most interested parties.
Minister for Legal Affairs, Damian Gomez, said consultations are nearly complete, but the bill will not be brought to Parliament until after more urgent legalization to implement value added tax (VAT) has been passed.
“I was under the impression that we have reached a substantial agreement and we have all but completed our consultations, and I anticipate that very shortly the bills on gaming will proceed,” Gomez said Monday.
Applying an equitable law on the internet aspects of gambling has been a controversial issue for years, with land casino operators and unlicensed "webshops" competing for attention and an even playing field. The issue of Bahamian citizens being denied access to land casinos has also heightened tensions.
Proposals for licensing qualifications include minimum levels of capital, operator probity and a requirement that all internet equipment used in internet gambling ventures be based within the Bahamas.
One of those involved in the discussions, Craig Flowers, CEO of webshop body FML Group, told The Tribune that the greatest challenge for the new Gaming Bill is its ability to present regulations that meet international standards for online gaming.
Flowers warned that there could be regulatory problems associated with online gambling on an international basis, particularly where US dollar denominated transactions take place across geographic borders, where strict regulations against money laundering are applied and the United States is especially sensitive.
“International online gaming requires any government to meet international compliances to move funds and in particular American funds across international borders, and that’s where the United States comes in on this whole charade," he said.
“Most money that is moved globally is in US currencies and if US currencies are going to be moved from one country to the next across international borders the US has a major problem with that and they have reasons to."
Last month, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe confirmed to The Tribune that the conduct of international internet online gaming from casinos, as opposed to web shops, was one of the issues still up for debate in the new Gaming Bill.