The Bahamas may be on the verge of liberalizing some of its gaming laws. Possible changes could include allowing legal residents of foreign origin to play in casinos and the establishment of a national lottery.
The tourism minister of the Bahamas, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, told the Nassau Guardian that a committee composed of tourism industry operators and government officials has been formed to study the existing legislation. The committee could come with its recommendations as early as the end of August.
At present, only visitors to the Bahamas are allowed to engage in gambling there. Bahamian citizens and legal residents are not.
Before the committee was created, the president of the Bahamas Hotel Association, Robert Sands, said the association supports allowing foreign residents to play in casinos, as well as the creation of a national lottery.
Although the BHA officially is not in favor of granting that same privilege to natural-born Bahamians, not all of its members are in agreement.
Sarkis Izmirlian, chairman and CEO of Baha Mar Resorts Ltd., has said he would be happy to host Bahamians at his Crystal Palace Casino. He also is in favor of a national lottery.
“Our gaming laws in the Bahamas are just not competitive versus jurisdictions in the U.S. and other places in the world, and we really need urgently to address our gaming regulations here in the Bahamas,” said Izmirlian.
Vanderpool-Wallace wants any proposed changes to the legislation to address matters relating to the Financial Transactions Reporting Act and to include cruise ships as well.