The reopening of gaming houses with curbside service yesterday provided relief for some furloughed Bahamians, who said after being unable to earn money for the past month and a half, they were happy and eager to be able to try their luck.
While there were not many long lines, various gaming house locations throughout the capital noted they saw a steady stream of customers on the first day back in business.
Guardian Business met two patrons outside the front door of Asure Win on East Street and Gibbs Corner, who said they were both out of work since the emergency lockdown measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 were implemented in March.
“We happy, some people win cause they lucky. Yes, I win,” Latoya Roxbury told Guardian Business, adding that she really needed the win.
“I win today… today when they first open. I get laid off when this whole thing start.”
Angela Curry added, “I get laid off myself, I ain’t working now. I didn’t win yet, I at the wrong house.”
At Island Luck’s Bernard Road location, cars queued at its drive through window while employees, donning masks, sat at a table set up by the door’s entrance collecting customers’ bets.
“I prefer to go inside but it’s okay for now,” Vanessa Williams told Guardian Business from inside her car.
“I’m coming back later to collect.”
At Chances gaming house on Market Street and Fowler Street, Dericka Brown waited outside of the building while a security officer took her account information and the numbers she wanted to play.
She said while she was relieved gaming houses have reopened, she can’t wait until things return to normal and she is allowed inside to play.
“I’m really relieved, but I’m disappointed that I can’t go inside. I like to sit down inside and spin,” she said.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced on Sunday that the country is now in phase 1b of the government’s five-phase plan for the reopening of the economy. This phase focuses on allowing businesses with the capacity to facility online sales and deliveries, as well as curbside sales and pickup, to operate five days a week.
Yesterday, Chief Executive Officer of the Bahamas Gaming House Operators Association (BGHOA) Gershan Major called it a positive first step that numbers houses are again able to operate.
“The BGOA members view the government’s measured plan for reopening the economy as a positive first step in allowing businesses to operate, albeit within a limited scope to continue to ensure public safety is protected. Gaming operations are limited to drive-through and curbside service for patrons to top up their accounts or purchase over-the-counter lottery tickets. Customers can also access their accounts for online,” Major said in response to Guardian Business questions messaged to him.
“The BGOA members are ensuring strict adherence to the social distancing and sanitation protocols put in place by the competent authority for staff and patrons alike to ensure public safety is maintained. Patrons are not allowed to physically enter any gaming establishment.”
Like most businesses deemed non-essential by the government, gaming houses were mandated to close their doors in March following the prime minister’s declaration of a public state of emergency. However, gaming houses were not included on the list of industries that could benefit from tax credits and deferrals the government offered as a part of its business continuity program.