Web shop bosses extend olive branch
Island Luck CEO Sebas Bastian said yesterday that he is prepared to have a sit down with Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar regarding concerns that the minister has with the web shop industry.
“The industry is going to have a sit down with the minister and have a constructive conversation on the way forward,” Bastian said.
“I don’t think there should be anything negative coming out of something like that.
“It’s just the way you do business. I think when all the parties get in the room we will have a positive resolution on all sides.”
Bastian stressed that he did not want to have a “dialogue in the media”.
“The back and forth via the media is not constructive,” he said.
“I will not fall victim to that.”
Bastian was asked to respond to D’Aguilar who said that web shop gaming is “sucking the lifeblood” out of the Bahamian economy.
Last Thursday, the Gaming House Operators Association blasted D’Aguilar for comments he made in the House of Assembly a day earlier when he called the operators a “cartel” and said the government is eyeing the possibility of increasing taxes for gaming houses.
The operators called the minister’s comments “unfortunate, reckless and factually incorrect”.
The minister later said that he is willing to meet with the operators to discuss the way forward and be “educated” on the industry. But he noted that he is concerned about the social negativity that web shops are having on the economy.
He said that many Bahamians play numbers, participate in casino games and spin all day and night to the “detriment of their families and their own financial well being”.
Noting that the industry has recently been promoting responsible gaming, Bastian said yesterday that he shares those concerns.
“Island Luck has always been a company that has prided itself on giving back as well. It’s only a game,” Bastian said.
“It is only designed to be entertainment. We don’t want to be seen or we don’t support people gaming in excessive forms.
“We always want to encourage moderation. So there are some commonalities that we share with the minister, especially in the lines of responsible gaming.
“I will be at the front of the line to assist hand in hand in driving programs and initiatives forward that actually help the country at large.”