The Bahamas Considers Tourists-Only iGambling Bill

The Bahamas Considers Tourists-Only iGambling BillAccording to recent reports, the Bahamian House of Assembly may soon be presented with an iGaming bill sparking renewed hopes the Bahamas may soon become the next country to legalize online gambling. If passed, the new law would permit only land-based casinos to offer online gambling games, but a contentious part of the bill also restricts access to gambling websites to just tourists visiting the Bahamas from countries already with regulated online gambling industries of their own.
As a result, this aspect of the bill has caused a number of the country’s politicians to claim discrimination against Bahamians “in favour of foreigners,” and has the potential to scupper the deal completely.  Furthermore, other politicians have questioned the provision’s merit, highlighting the fact numerous tourists travel to the Bahamas to enjoy the Caribbean paradise’s sun, sand and gorgeous ocean water, and so are unlikely to want to spend much time gambling on computers indoors. Therefore, restricting online gambling to just tourists from countries already with regulated markets is likely to be self-defeating and severely restrict the casinos’ revenue potentials.
On the other hand, the Bahamas’ land-based casinos already employ a foreigners only policy in order to protect the local population from the potential social ills of gambling, and so the iGambling bill in its present form could merely be seen as a continuation of that very same approach.
Nevertheless, despite some disagreements on the bill there exists a general consensus online gambling will prove a boon to a local economy in which half the country’s Gross Domestic Product is derived from tourism. Much of the boost is expected to come via the $3.5 billion Baha Mar casino resort slated to open in Spring 2015, and as Baha Mar’s CEO, Sarkis Izmirlian, explains:
“These regulatory updates would provide the Bahamas and Baha Mar with a sustainable competitive advantage, which is vital for an economy driven by international tourism. The Bahamas has long been known as a stable gaming jurisdiction, and these new regulations would put us on a level playing field with the world’s most successful casino markets such as Las Vegas, Singapore and Macau. The regulations also would allow us to offer private VIP gaming salons, enhanced lines of credit, gaming junkets and other amenities vital to attracting affluent international casino customers.”
The new iGaming bill is currently been put on the House of Assembly’s agenda and once tabled will need to be debated before finally being put to a referendum.

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