100 Years of Gaming In The Bahamas

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The 2022 Gaming Board

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper had a walkabout of the offices and meetings with new members of the Gaming Board, January 13, 2022. Photo shows Gaming Board Members, from left: Ian Tynes, Executive Chairman Dr. Daniel Johnson, Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper, Karen Thompson-Passard, Kevin Stuart, and Ryan Brown.


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Mission Statement

The Mission of the Gaming Board of The Bahamas is to protect the integrity of the Gaming Industry by keeping it free from the influences of organized crime; by assuring the honesty, good character and integrity of all licensed operators and employees; and to ensure that Gaming is conducted fairly and in accordance with the provisions of the Gaming Act (2014), the Gaming Regulations (2014), the Gaming House Operator Regulations (2014) and the Gaming Rules (2015).

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is produced by The Gaming Board of The Bahamas

Gaming Board Executives Hon. I. Chester Cooper Minister Of Tourism, Investments & Aviation Dr. Daniel Johnson Chairman Mr. Ian Tynes Secretary

Gaming Board Structure

Administrative Services The Administrative Services Division is responsible for matters related to each employee’s personal and professional development as well as their overall wellbeing. Finance The Finance Division is essentially the law enforcement arm of the Gaming Board. This division is responsible for the regulation and monitoring of all Casino and Gaming House Operations throughout the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Operations The Operations Division, led by the Deputy Secretary, comprises the Licensing, Registry & Data Entry, and Regulatory Compliance departments.

The Executive Chairman Dr. Daniel Johnson and the Board acknowledge the contribution and resource, creative, journalistic work supplied by the following persons and entities to produce this publication. Ian Tynes, Secretary to the Board, Andrew Jackson. Edith Stuart, Greg Smith (Office of the Executive Chairman), Adrian Sands, Aculture Shock Media Group & Projects Masters Developers International, Infinite Visuals Photographers (Jahiem Rahaming and Christian Smith), Nameiko Hall (Archives), ESPN, The Tribune, The Nassau, Guardian, Atlantis, Baha Mar, Emerald Bay, Resort World, Bahamas Information Services, Nassau Public Library and all other contributors.

Nassau Head Office 4th Floor, Centerville House 2nd Terrace West & Collins Avenue P.O. Box N-4564 Nassau, Bahamas T: 242 397 9200 F: 242 327 8864


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DPM COOPER APPOINTS CSIIC & LAYS FRAME WORK FOR GIVE BACKS TO THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE FROM LOCAL GAMING SECTOR The country will now benefit from the deliberations of the newly appointed Corporate Social Investment Initiative Committee which will be headed by Mr. Clifford Butch Scavella, former Commodore of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. Also appointed is Mr. Paul Farquharson, former Commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

The Committee is as follows:1. Clifford Scavella – Chairman 5. Rev. Dr. Shelton Higgs 2. Elaine Bullard-Foster 6 .Alexandria Maillis Lynch 3. Paul Farquharson 7. Ian Tynes ex officio 4. Hendrick Nairn 8. Greg Smith ex officio

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Wednesday June 15th 2022, the Deputy Prime Minister said this:“Gaming continues to be rebooted. “Yet we continue to see opportunities. I also wanted to note that the Gaming Board is preparing the Corporate Social Investment Imitative to be funded by Gaming House Operators to foster social responsivity in terms of gaming. “We expect that One per cent of gaming house revenues are to be allocated to social causes, education, sports, entrepreneurship and tourism development. “We plan on getting that started with the establishment of a Corporate Social Investment Initiative Administrative Committee and a Corporate Social Investment Initiative Fund, “These are in train and we will update the Bahamian people further on these developments soon.”

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The Honourable Philip Davis


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MESSAGE FROM THE PRIME MINISTER COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS Friends; The progress and deep national enrichment of Gaming in The Bahamas over the last 100 Years have in no small part been favourably impacted by successive administrations, who understood the value of this Industry and moved resolutely to make, keep and maintain our country as the super regulatory regime of the region with distinct and unique Bahamian features of culture, hospitality, sense of place and transparency. As Prime Minister, I stand on the shoulders of my predecessors; who did the heavy lifting and weathered the winds of change in enabling a Gaming industry; which today is the hallmark of our Bahamianization policy and, in immeasurable ways, helped to build, foster and maintain the Bahamian Middle Class. We are very proud of our local Gaming Industry, and we are most hopeful of the benefits to special causes and projects that are earmarked to benefit from our Bahamian Operators. We owe immense gratitude to our Casino Operators who have endeavoured to maintain our clean, pristine, above reproach protocols over the years. I am proud of the hallmark praise to the regulatory regime and professionalism of the Gaming Board for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. My Government wishes to give its highest assurance of its commitment to the legislative framework which will keep The Bahamas out front and on the cutting edge of the electronic advances in this Industry. Additionally, my Government encourages young Bahamians to avail themselves of the opportunities in Gaming as employees and entrepreneurs. 100 Years of Gaming is a distinct and proud national achievement. We owe in no small measure our success to the sincere and devout professionalism of the staff of the Gaming Board and the stellar performances and competencies of the persons who have passed through its ranks As Prime Minister, I implore the Board appointed in 2021 to boldly go where their expertise guides them, keeping with my Government’s support for the Industry. To our Visitors and players, I assure you that The Bahamas is your best bet for acclaimed regulatory Gaming with experiences and activities peculiar and spectacular to our jurisdiction. Let the record reflect that my Government, standing in the lane to move the baton; beyond the next 100 Years, will rise above expectations. Yours faithfully,

The Hon. Philip E. Davis QC, MP Prime Minister

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The Honorable I. Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister


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Message from The Honorable I. Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister/ Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation, (PLP) Member of Parliament for Exuma & Ragged Island My Fellow Bahamians & Friends, I find it fortuitous that just days after the 2022/2023 National Budget for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas was passed in the House of Assembly that I am penning these remarks to occasion the celebration of 100 Years of Gaming in our country. In my Budget Remarks; I reminded Bahamians everywhere and our friends; of the Davis/Cooper (PLP) Administration’s major goals to grow this economy, grow investments and grow revenues as we meet our commitments and brace ourselves for future shocks and future possibilities. The celebration of a century in Gaming lends much confidence, excitement and hope to our goals. Looking back from whence Gaming began; we know that perseverance and the commitment to do the right and responsible thing; to never shirk from the heavy lifting but to govern in the best interest of all; brings rich and sustainable benefits. 100 Years of Gaming is a golden achievement and inspires confidence in the ability, readiness and preparedness of the Bahamian people to mark the manner of “our bearing”.

To the local Gaming industry; your journey is just begun. You have an historic occasion and opportunity to seal and build a legacy which speaks to your heart, your soul and your philanthropy as we continue our journey. Finally, and most important on behalf of my Ministry, I salute the hundreds of persons who have been engaged by the Gaming Board of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas since it was created, on the heels of Majority Rule in 1967. The country owes you respect, admiration and praise. Continue to do your jobs and to make us all proud as we build on our 100 year history to make Gaming in The Bahamas the well- regulated, awesome Bahamian experience welcome mat of the world. Sincerely,


Let us continue to build a Gaming Industry which is world class renown and respected for its stellar regulatory regime; and let us continue to advance this industry which has been such a major stepping stone for the Middle Class. In my Ministry; we are very keen on training and development of young people. We want them to take their place at the table. Gaming presents such a lucrative professional opportunity for our people and we must enable and empower and guide. This is also an opportunity to personally thank our Casino Operators who put their confidence in this nation. Their investment and their good will is part and parcel of the uniqueness of the Bahamian Gaming experience and keeps us ahead of our competitors.

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t took The Bahamas 100 plus years of Gaming history, experience and involvement and the fine vintage is reaping the nation fantastic rewards as it is poised to be the undisputed top class Gaming destination of the western world. The Bahamas is poised to emerge as the premiere international Gaming Destination. It is without question the leader in its region and tax revenues over the next 25 years from the industry are estimated at $7 billion; as this destination revives with the very best in dining, art, entertainment, hospitality, services and modernized wellregulated gaming.

Casino Gaming started back in the roaring 20s in the Bahamas. Scores of well-heeled sophisticated wealthy New York, New England, Florida Canadian, UK and European elites popularized the executive private, but very much illegal Casino on Cat Cay, just miles off the South Florida. The Bahamian Club in Nassau would join the party a few years later. It would be another 40 years before Casino Gaming would be brought under the confines of the law and the regulation processes were fired up.

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employed at every level of this industry and my assignment is to further enrich and strengthen this trajectory. Our people appreciate the importance of the Gaming industry and my team at the Gaming Board of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is deserving of a lengthy standing ovation for their due diligence, skill sets and commitment to this country having a well-regulated Gaming Industry which is respected by our international peers,” Dr. Johnson says.

“We are building on this wonderful history. This is our journey. We know where we came from in the Gaming Industry and we have a clear plan, vision and commitment to making Gaming an anchor in our economy and a major supply chain for the burgeoning Middle Class and Professional class of Bahamians,” says Dr. Daniel Johnson, the Executive Chairman of the Gaming Board for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Dr. Johnson is part of a team of “New Day Leaders” assembled and commissioned by Prime Minister Philip E. Davis, and Deputy Prime Minister I Chester Cooper and charged with ambitious assignments and high expectations of their competencies and delivery. The term “New Day” is derived from the anthem of the new ruling political party, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) which won a landslide snap general election in September 2021, after having lost office five years earlier, in 2017, where Mr. Davis served as Deputy Prime Minister to then Prime Minister Perry G. Christie. “It is a Government which is strong on Gaming and committed to a con-


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stant approach to ensure we are ahead of our competitors and that we are amongst the first to offer expeditiously new entries in interactive and mobile gaming while maintaining a well-regulated and highly respected regulatory agency,” says Dr. Johnson. “We are keenly aware of the acceleration and growth of the Bahamian Middle Class was engineered by Bahamians being

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, a former British Crown Colony, is an Independent country “within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies in the Atlantic. It takes up 97% of the Lucayan Archipelago's land area and is home to 88% of the archipelago's population. The archipelagic state consists of more than 3000 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, and is located north of Cuba and northwest of the island of Hispaniola (split between Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and the Turks and Caicos Islands, southeast of the American state of Florida, and east of the Florida Keys. The capital is Nassau on the island of New Providence. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force describes The Bahamas' territory as encompassing 470,000 km2 (180,000 sq. miles) of ocean.” The most recent census puts the local population

at under 300,000 and the country experiences an average of 6 million tourists annually. The Bahamas has been preparing for this moment in time:1. The Atlantis Casino on Paradise Island which opened in 1996 with more spectacular build outs over the ensuing period is second only to Disney in name recognition as a family resort and Las Vegas as a gaming destination outside of the USA. With over $4 billion invested the Atlantis property employs over 6,000 Bahamians. Originally developed by the South African multi-national hotel chain Sun International and the late legendary hotelier Sir Sol Kerzner to become Kerzner International and is now under ownership of a Canadian investment company.

2. The Baha Mar Resort and Casino on Cable Beach Nassau is the largest investment and Casino space in the region in years. At a cost of near $4 billion and funded by the Chinese Import Export Bank; this property was the recent host the world’s prestigious crypto currency conference attended by world leaders like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, crypto currency magnates and sports and entertainment and international icons in business. 3. The Sir Lynden Pindling International Airport was built at a cost of over $400 million and its modern facilities is welcoming to airlines from North America, Latin America, United Kingdom, Europe and Asia with local carriers serving a string of airports in the Family of Bahamian Islands.

4. The down town Nassau Harbour Cruise Port, or Prince George Dock; is undergoing a private partnership re-make at over $2 billion and will come on stream in 18 months with an improved harbor and space to berth the world’s largest cruise liners. 5. On the Island of Grand Bahama, the Carnival Cruise Lines company is developing a new sea port for more expansion to complement the existing cruise port in the city of Freeport. 6. The “New Day” Government is committing another tranche of funding to construct a new international airport in Freeport. 7. A major investor just picked up the formerly Government owned Lucayan Beach Hotel & Casino in Freeport and is going to put millions more into its upgrade and renovation with a planned opening within the next 18 months. 8. On the Island of Bimini which lays less than 50 nautical miles off the coast of South Florida; The Malaysian company Genting; continues to break its own record with the Resorts World Bimini Bay Hotel and Casino. Cruise ships like the mega flagship Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic and other cruise lines call weekly to port.

11. A compendium of legislation under the Perry Christie/Philip Davis PLP Government in 2014 revamped and modernized the Gaming legislation and created space for Bahamians to own and play in the local gaming industry. The country is moving towards more energetic discussions on Bahamians and foreigners working and residing in the Bahamas playing in the Casinos; which is prohibited by law. 12. The Gaming Board for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas has embarked upon preparing and presenting a seasoned cadre of Bahamian professionals who work in all spheres of the regulatory agency and in many cases have more experience in their specializations than their US counterparts.

9. There are additional Casino licenses available in Nassau and the island of San Salvador; the heralded landfall of Europe to the New World in 1492. 10. The Bahamas graduated to the University of the Bahamas status three years ago as the College of the Bahamas; the country’s premiere tertiary institution stepped up. The University churns out a well-rounded cadre of trained professionals in their disciplines and there is consideration in some quarters for colleges to educate and train Bahamians and foreign students in Gaming.

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13. Gaming has moved from an accoutrement to the Tourism industry and proudly claims its own space while charting the way forward for a buoyant and ambitious middle class growth and development. 14. The Bahamas, with over 100 years in Gaming experience is poised to run up besides Singapore, Macau and Las Vegas; and lead the way. 15. The parity of the US dollar to the Bahamian currency and parallel usage in the Bahamas helps ground the Gaming Industry for players to compute their spending and winnings in US dollars.

16. With its tropical climate and attractive second home market for investors; there is a clamoring for a relaxation on restrictions to the Casino for residents which can only lead to more revenue for the country. 17. The Bahamas offers the most adventurous and diversified tourism experience with its world renowned hospitality and culture. Being able


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to explore proposed World Heritage sites like the Columbus landfall on San Salvador; The first European settlers – The Eleutherian Adventurers in the 17th century, our colorful history of Piracy and Rum Running during American Prohibition , the domicile of the abdicated monarch Edward V111 and the Duchess of Windsor to the Bahamas during World War 11 and the Clifton Heritage National Park where the three civilizations –

the indigenous people, the Europeans and the Africans merge along with the individual vibrant culture of Family Island communities provide a winning combination. 18. Bahamians are fiercely over protective and accommodating to their Tourism Industry and their guests and visitors. Every Bahamian is fully invested in making sure visitors have

a safe and rewarding experience in this country and this national ethos is the secret ingredient which scholars and world

observers say will deliver The Bahamas at the pinnacle of Premiere Gaming World Destination status. 19. The Bahamas is also reclaiming its branding as “Sports in Paradise” with an aggressive agenda to return internationally sanctioned and recognized Track & Field, College basketball, off season major league baseball and NFL training camps, competitive yachting and sailing

and European football to the country. 20. The New Day Government on assuming office in September 2021 removed and rescinded all of the previous Government’s policies and interdictions during the surge of the Covid pandemic and The Bahamas is open for business. 21.The Country’s two major telecommunications giants, BTC and ALIV manage the optimum speed and fiber networks in the region ensuring smooth transactional mobile and interactive Gaming and business and access to the super international Internet highway.

cies and its common law evolves from the British Common Law. 26. Culture and Art and Entertainment in the Bahamas are unique, compelling and characteristically a fusion of a melting pot of experiences. Here you will understand why the star of American vaudeville theatre Bert Williams was born and raised in the Bahamas; why the Silver Screen legend Sir Sidney Poitier, a product of Cat Island, one of the southern Islands of the country

became James Weldon Johnson, the composer, along with his brother- their mother- was born in Nassau on Meeting Street. Fine Art is on display at the National Art Museum and you can take a tour of the homestead of the legendary folk religious art painter Amos Ferguson and explore where he worked while preparing for any one of his exhibitions at the Smithsonian. And if you are looking for something a little bit on the hyper chord; you can explore the story of Joseph Spence; the world’s most marveled acoustic guitar player. Slowly comb through the Sir Lynden Pindling International Airport; on your way in or way out; through the Hall of Fame and tip your hat to Bahamian Olympic Gold medalists, major league baseball, tennis, cricket, sailing, NBA and NFL super stars. 27. And if you are cruising in or flying out, look down at the waters of the Bahamas and share in the comments of the American astronauts orbiting the earth in 1968 who described the waters of this country as the clearest on the planet.

22. The electrical grid for the capitol Nassau on the Island of New Providence is about to be infused with the advent of LNG alternative energy and solar power and its derivatives are now in place with solar farms across the country. 23. The Bahamas has world class Health and hospital, clinic facilities – public and private, with over 1,000 of the best trained medical practitioners who schooled in North America, Latin America, UK and Europe. 24. The Bahamas is averred to private gun possession and ownership of any kind and while private licenses can be obtained from the Royal Bahamas Police Force; handguns and assault weapons are strictly forbidden and carry stiff jail times and penalties. 25. The Bahamas is amongst the world’s oldest Parliamentary democra-

credits his resolve and spirit on his Bahamian heritage and you won’t be surprised to wander into a bar where Lenny Kravitz, whose mother is a Bahamian; is hanging out. And don’t be surprised if your Bahamian Taxi, Uber or jitney driver knows the words and melody of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

“The Bahamas is proud and humbled by its 100 plus years in Gaming. We are the safest bet. A winning bet. An insured bet. With experience to show for it. When you roll the dice in this destination; you are a winner before they leave your hand,” says Dr. Johnson.

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Nassau, Bahamas Opened: April 11, 1978 Closed: August 1983

The Dawn of a New Era in Gaming GAMING BILL 2014

A Bill for an Act to provide for the modernization of the Gaming Regulatory Dispensation in The Bahamas, the continuation of The Gaming Board for The Bahamas; The Licensing and Regulation of Gaming Activities and Matters incidental thereto Enacted by The Parliament of The Bahamas


contentious and controversial poll from the people on the regularization and taxation of what were then hundreds of “illegal , unlicensed lottery Web Shops” and the rejection of support for a National Lottery in January 2013, are the pre-cursors to a modernized, energetic and performing Gaming Act and Regulatory regime in the Bahamas today. The new, provocative and detailed Act was brought to Parliament on 11th September 2014 and under vigorous debate passed the muster in the lower House and in the Senate and was signed into law by The Governor General. Gambling in the Judaea Christian culture in the Bahamas formed the most enigmatic vulnerability and expose of the Bahamian

mindset. Pastors preached it was a deadly sin. Full stop. When Casino Gambling was formally introduced in 1965 with the licensing of a Casino in Freeport and the Casino on Paradise Island, Churches galvanized their memberships to oppose and pulpits became MowTown hits for fiery sermons on the gates to damnation which begin with gambling. All the while in the clear and present open, Bahamians participated in any range of illegal gaming at hundreds of night clubs which offered Poker, Black Jack, Tonk and Dice (craps) games with a detailed look out man for the Police and a very experienced card and dice shark –The House Man-supervising these games. And then there were the Number Houses. Father Allen, the American businessmen who pioneered the “chicken in the

bag” national dietary past time also ran a Numbers operation. Percy Munnings, who was elected National Treasurer of the ruling Progressive Liberal Party unopposed in every consecutive national convention has his Numbers operation. Gene Toote a likeable old curmudgeon started his chicken in the bag business as well alongside his Numbers operation on King Street. Laverne Bowe Stewart and Audley Archer operated out of the Zanzibar on Blue Hill Road and another location on Martin Street. The Haitian community had its own Numbers business ran by its locals and Haitian men found ready employment as Numbers Runners/ Sellers for the Number houses. Talbot Stokes Thompson, another big operator shot a man during a Police Raid on his Numbers compound and went to jail.

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Yet Powerful sermons from the White and Black segments of the Methodist Church, H. W. Brown was raining fire and brimstone at the historic Bethel Baptist Church, Alexander Black was waxing at Annex Baptist on Wulff Road and Talmadge Sands was quietly extolling the pitfalls of Casinos and gambling at Zion Baptist on Shirley Street. The irony is the Church leaders had this compromise that their job was to first save the souls of their Bahamian congregations. So if Tourists from faraway places wanted to come to the Bahamas and lose themselves in the Casino that was alright by them. Alright until the PLP government in keeping with recommendations made by a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the future conduct of Gaming in the then colony created this unpardonable offence of wanting to expand Casino licenses. The issue was so explosive that the most powerful man, next to Prime Minister Pindling in the Cabinet was the Minister for Finance Carlton Elisha Francis. Francis was born in the United States to Bahamian parents. Highly qualified as a mathematician at prestigious universities, Francis was also an exemplary leader in the Baptist church. The Baptist were the strongest denomination to give the fledgling PLP in Opposition political support. Now in Government it appeared as if the PLP had forgotten who the boss was. The Baptist lost their voices, tambourines and church hats rallying against the expansion of Casinos. Francis broke with the Cabinet and when the Communication was made to the House


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of Assembly on the Government’s intention to expand Casino Gambling, Francis in a moving speech resigned his portfolio on the floor of the House of Assembly. By 1972, the Bahamas was on the road to National Independence from the United Kingdom. The issue of Casino and Gambling form a very revealing ethos of the prevailing view on Casino Gambling. The Penal Code already codified all other areas of local gambling as illegal and stiff penalties and prison terms could be had for a simple game of Black Jack amongst friends. Police targeted Numbers Runners whose receipt books were used in the Magistrate Courts to convict and jail many. These religious positions are necessary to understand the similar energies in 2013 on the Government’s question to the Bahamian people on two issues:1. Do You Support the Regularization and Taxation of web shop gaming? 2. Do you support the establishment of a National Lottery? Polling was conducted on the 29th January 2013 under the auspices of the Parliamentary Commissioner and held at Polling Stations in Constituencies across the country, very much the same as a General Election of the ill-fated Referendum of 2002.

Religious Leaders respectfully opposed and lobbied their members to turn out the vote. The former Government while in office had begun the process of discussions on regulating the Web Shops changed course and its Leader Hubert Ingraham advised he would be voting NO to the questions. Mr. Ingraham would confide to others later that his position changed after a visit from a leading protestant prelate who asked if the Prime Minister wanted to risk his legacy being shadowed by the legalization of Web Shop gaming for Bahamians. On February 6th, 2013, the Bahama Journal reported the official count at that point was as follows:1. On question #1 - 48,012 voted NO and 30,767 voted YES 2. On question #2 – 48,012 voted NO and 30,767 voted YES This was followed by calls from political interest and church leaders for the Web Shops in the country to be immediately closed and for the Police to enforce the law. The Web Shops were also before the Supreme Court seeking clarity on their position. Prime Minister Perry Christie advised the Web Shops to close. New Court decisions kept the situation in limbo.

On 11th September 2014, the Christie Government laid on the table of the House of Assembly a compendium of new legislation to modernize, regularize gaming and the casinos and to bring the web shop into a lawful and regulated circumstance. This is how Perry Christie summed it up in a recent chat:- “ I saw Percy Munnings having done more for the social advancement of so many down trodden and neglected by his charity and generosity than all the combined forces of opposition hiding in Pindling’s office because the Police were coming for him. I saw Gene Toote who gave his all in support and encouragement to help Hubert Ingraham become Prime Minister having to sit in a jail cell because of a police raid. I saw Laverne Bowe Stuart, out on the corner of Blue Hill Road every morning at sun up parceling out lunch monies and text and exercise book and geometry set monies to needy students and their parents. Yet he had to dodge and hide. How could we continue to operate like this in a country where the Bahamian people want to do this

of the Government, but which will also act as a catalyst for the generation of revenues, economic development and the advancement of the public good with a socially responsible framework”.

and are doing this and we have a system which makes them less than what they are? In taking the risk to legalize Web Shop gambling, I lost my Government. But I had said in 2001 that I would rather lose doing that which is right, than win doing that which is wrong,” Mr. Christie has said. Here are some takes from the historic Communication Prime Minister Christie made in Parliament in tabling the legislation:TRANSFORMATIVE LEGISLATION FOR THE GAMING SECTOR “This Legislation is set to transform The Bahamas into a vibrant internationally competitive gaming jurisdiction , anchored by solid and detailed legislation which not only honors the international obligations

WHAT TAXES, EARNINGS AND BENEFITS WILL LOOK LIKE “The economic impact from these comprehensive gaming measures will be considerable, and will stimulate economic growth for the public benefit as well as enhance Governments revenues and fiscal policies. From unverified information received from the majority of the web shop operators, the following projections have been calculated and are subject to change once audited or verifiable financial statements are produced, and the licensing process or gaming houses have been completed. “Penalties, back business license fees and applications fees payable during the transition period are expected to yield some $25 million. “On an annual basis during the first full year of operation, the higher of a gaming tax at the rate of 11 % Gaming tax plus 2 % social contributions and annual monitoring fees are expected to yield some $22 million, on a gaming tax of 25% or earning before deduction of interest, Taxes, depreciation and Amortization are expected to yield some $29 million. It is expected that the current level of employment estimated around 3,000 persons should stabilize and further improve in a regulated environment.” PROBITY IS A MUST “The most fundamental cornerstone of any credible gaming dispensation

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of personal probity, and will respect and maintain the confidentiality of the information at their disposal.” THE EYES OF THE WORLD ARE ON THE BAHAMAS “All nations are under the global microscope that strives to ensure multilateral compliance with proper financial regulatory standards and the avoidance of risks. In that context, the international community is also placing a heightened focus on Casinos and gaming as it looks to cause countries to clamp down on the potential for money laundering and related crimes, including the financing of terrorism. International standards have been developed and agreed and states are regularly being subjected to peer reviews and assessments to determine their level of compliance with those standards, the risk that present themselves and the measures that are being taken to mitigate those risks.

anywhere in the world can be distilled into a single word. That word is “probity”. Probity focuses on establishing that any given person who seeks to be involved in the gaming industry whether as a regulator or as a license holder, is fit and proper to do so and moreover remains fit and proper on an ongoing basis. The currency of probity is therefore information concerning the relevant individual ranging from information regarding the personal history of that person, or business history, where that person is a corporate entity, to information relating to the financial history, capacity and dealings of that person as well as criminal history and associations with other persons. As a means of ensuring that prospective participants in the gaming industry can be relied upon to manage their gaming operations in a manner which is fair and honest and complies with the requirements of the law, the Gaming Bill empowers the Gaming Board

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to conduct comprehensive probity investigations into applicants for licenses and certificates of suitability against the qualification criteria set forth in the legislation. The license application process therefore involves the disclosure of wide ranging and extremely sensitive personal and financial information about that person applying for the license. Furthermore the obligation to disclose this information extends to all persons holding stipulated levels of financial interest in the prospective license holder which is generally set at a threshold of five per cent. “It follows that in the performance of its statutory mandate the regulator and its staff will become privy to extensive information regarding applicants and license holders which both sensitive and proprietary in nature. Accordingly it is equally important to ensure that the custodians of this information should meet appropriate standards

“The Bahamas is no exception in this regard and the eyes of the world community are clearly upon us. Within the Organization of American States there exists a Committee of Experts for the Mechanism for Follow Up on the implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. That Committee will be making an on-site evaluation of the Bahamas over the period September 23 to 25 in 2014 to determine the level of compliance with the provisions of that convention.” WE COULD NO LONGER RECONCILE THE INCONSISTENCIES “It became increasingly apparent to the government that there is a need to regularize, to right size and to rationalize the web shop industry in The Bahamas which in the past has not been licensed and regulated. This need arises firstly from the fact that there is an established public demand within The Bahamas, for the services offered by this industry, which can no longer feasibly be reconciled with the overall

prohibition or participation in this form of gaming by persons living or working in The Bahamas. Moreover, the nature of the services offered by the Industry, in particular its on-line offering, poses a range of particular risks, which have been highlighted earlier and which can only be effectively addressed through a licensing and regulatory regime which is both legally enforceable and specifically tailored to meet the prevailing international standards of best practices in the context of prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.”

BAHAMIAN OWNERSHIP “There is also a need to ensure that operations of this nature will at all times be owned exclusively by Bahamian citizens. The licensing of these activities will enable the Gaming Board to monitor and the Minister to approve the corporate ownership structure of license holders, as well as the procurement of financial interests in such license holders.” BOLSTERING THE BAHAMAS’S IMAGE “The regularization of the Web Shop industry will also play a major role in entrenching in The Bahamas a gaming dispensation in which there is complete clarity as to which conduct is legal and which is illegal and in which the rule of law holds sway. This will not only bolster the image of The Bahamas as a jurisdiction which offers a clear cut legislative environment for the conduct of all types of gaming activity but will be of enormous benefit to its people.” REGULATIONS TO ALTER PREVIOUS DISTINCTIONS “While the new legislation ill presently permit non-Bahamian tourists to participate in casino gaming and Bahamians and residents to participate in gaming in the Gaming Houses, the new legislation goes further to empower the Minister responsible for Gaming to make Regulations permitting participation in the types of gaming contemplated in casinos and gaming houses by any category or all categories of persons. Such Regulations may also regulate the circumstances under which such participation shall be permitted. As a result, when promulgated, such Regulations would end the distinction between categories of persons allowed to game in casinos and gaming houses, as well as the types of games offered in casinos and gaming houses.”

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Perry G. Christie

“The Father of the Modernized Gaming Industry of the Bahamas”


hristie’s record on Gaming shows a tenacious ability and focus to keep it clean and to maximize public revenue in an Industry so easily mischaracterized and under appreciated for its value.

When the modern history of Gaming in the Bahamas is written, former Prime Minister Perry G. Christie’s contribution- often maligned and misunderstood – in this most vibrant regulated sector of the Bahamian Economy- may catapult him to a revered Statesman status. Although he did not go as far as the Royal Commission on Gambling opined in their 1967 report; which insisted on Bahamians and residents lawfully playing in the Casinos; the Christie/Davis PLP administration cleared the bar which Pindling and Hubert Ingraham made no pretense about daring to jump.

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Educated at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, where he read Law, Christie was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1977 on the political ticket of the then ruling Progressive Liberal Party. Just three years prior to his election he was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister and PLP Leader Lynden Pindling. Christie became a Cabinet Minister for Health, National Insurance and Housing on his election and was appointed Chairman of the Gaming Board. Christie was re-elected to the HA in the general elections of 1982 and appointed to a new Cabinet portfolio as Minister of Tourism. In this sugar plum of Cabinet portfolios, Christie again also assumed the Chairmanship of the Gaming Board; which is the government agency responsible for the regularizing and licensing of Casinos and the Gaming activities in the country. Modern, regulated Gaming under a new Act was still in its infancy and in need of much revision and overhaul when Christie came onboard as Chairman. The Bahamas’s jurisdiction was constantly under international reviews as Operators of Casinos in the Bahamas like Resorts International on Paradise Island underwent scrutiny before

The Gambling Commission Report sank the UBP. It detailed abuses, bribes and pay offs, some concealed under the term – Consultancy Fees” in the Freeport and Paradise Island Casino licensing issue.

On Christie’s watch, his due diligence and caution prevented a serious incursion of undesirables into the Casino Industry in the early 1980s. In this episode Christie linked the then fledgling local Gaming regulatory agency with the investigative unit of the established United Kingdom Gaming Authority; to plug the holes and weaknesses which were being exploited. Some thirty odd years late it would be Christie’s political courage whilst under tremendous pressure that brought about the establishment of the local Gaming Houses in the country with significant new revenue streams and employment opportunities for Bahamians. This would be amplified with the passing of new legislation which today still anchors the success and sterling international reputation of the Bahamas’s Gaming Industry.

the Nevada Gaming Commissions and the New Jersey Gaming Commissions for new licenses or extensions to licenses in those states. A 1967 Royal Commission of Inquiry Report in the Bahamas, under the Colonial Government, which inquired into the affairs and relationships with the government and the applications and grant of a Casino License to a foreign company for Freeport Grand Bahama and for a Casino on Paradise Island, had sown the seeds of potential corruption and this also funneled the energies of a Protestant and Pentecostal religious community with stern views on “the evils and sins” of gambling. Pindling and the PLP won the general election of 10th January 1967 defeating the United Bahamian Party (UBP) white oligarchy and ending over 300 years of minority rule over these islands. The Gambling

Commission Report sank the UBP. It detailed abuses, bribes and pay offs, some concealed under the term –Consultancy Fees” in the Freeport and Paradise Island Casino licensing issue. A number of the shadowy American figures hovering around that cesspool had also hedged their bets by finding “friends” in the PLP. In his first international news conference on becoming Premier Mr. Pindling was asked about the Commission’s Report which found campaign contributions going to the PLP. His famous retort was … ‘to get rid of the UBP and free my people from a minority oligarchy and 350 years of minority Government’ – “I would have cut a deal with the devil.” Major foreign personalities like Mike McClaney boasted publicly of their financial contributions to the PLPs election coffers and opened Public Relations and Marketing Offices in Nassau under the cover of supporting the new Government. McClaney bragged of having a new Casino license from the new Government. He was promptly deported from the colony. Gambling or Gaming is therefore intertwined in the modern Bahamian political history. The Royal Commission Report on Gambling made vigorous recommendations on how new Gaming Legislation should be crafted. Prior to this period the

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Cruise ships made the Nassau Port their capitol and the Bahamas saw growth annually. Cruise Ships were not allowed to open their Casinos while in port.

Legislative Council and the Governor issued special exemptions to certain licensees to operate Casinos at various locations for prescribed periods. It is against this history; Mr. Christie emerges as Chairman of the Gaming Board. The closing years of the 70s were economically rough. The Bahamas struggled with much strain on the economic front. The 1976 Arab Oil embargo had shut down the Tourism Industry as the world reeled in an uncontrollable recession. The major hotels, all foreign owned which employed huge chunks of the Black work force were shutting their doors. The Pindling Government privatized these resorts to save jobs and bolster the economy. This was like putting a Band-Aid on a body with 90 degree burns. Just before the 70s bid the country good bye, the Government canceled the license of the Hobby Horse Hall Race Track in 1976. For more than 40 years the country had a burgeoning horse racing industry which employed


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hundreds of Bahamians. Recovery was slow as the 1980s edged and the major tourism Cable Beach strip on the island of New Providence was jumping again with the Nassau Beach Hotel, The Ambassador Beach Hotel. The Cable Beach Hotel and Convention Center was about to open its doors with the Crystal Palace Hotel & Casino about to come up out of the ground. Freeport was lit and the “Magic City” was holding its own with the Princess Hotel and other Resorts and the Casino in Lucaya and the main Freeport –on- the- Mall strip. Cruise ships made the Nassau Port their capitol and the Bahamas saw growth annually. Cruise Ships were not allowed to open their Casinos while in port. Christie talked a good game and his personality, wit and energy gave hope of resilience to the Bahamian

Tourism product and workers in the industry connected to his message. Then the devil came knocking on the country’s front door. The controversial Bahamian businessman/hotelier and Airline CEO Everette Bannister was shopping around two new American friends in the Bahamas who were actively pursuing a casino license. Sorkis Webbe and Victor Saayah. Mr. Bannister was a part owner of the Atlantis Hotel (no connection to ATLANTIS) on Nassau and West Bay Street and his Bahamian owned airline jet service International Air Bahamas IAB was the pathway of Europeans in Germany, Luxembourg, Paris and London to the Bahamas. Bannister was a figure far ahead of his time. His success brought him the scars of Pindling’s political opposition and Bannister’s business associates failed many smell tests.

As Chairman of the Gaming Board, Christie was being pummeled into fast tracking an application for Webbe and Saayah and newspaper reports of the time suggest political pressure was on him to scuttle the due diligence procedures. Christie, recognizing the limitations of the Gaming Board and the perception that powerful forces could dissuade others to behave in the manner self-serving to a purpose not consistent with the objectives of the Bahamas’s Gaming industry consulted his Gaming Counterparts in London. The result was London loaned its investigative arm and the consultancy of Dickson/Wilson to the Gaming Board of the Bahamas to assist in properly vetting the applications and the industry. The Webbe/ Sayaah application would eventually be rejected.

By September 1983 the Bahamas embroiled in an international web of allegations which again seemed to revolve around Mr. Bannister. Political pressure was on Prime Minister Pindling and ambitious politicians in the PLP like Christie and his law partner Hubert Alexander Ingraham, who was also serving in Pindling’s Cabinet spoke out against public malfeasance and corruption. Pindling fired both Christie and Ingraham from

the Cabinet in October 1984. The Press had already pierced the veil on Webbe’s character and efforts to refloat his Casino ambitions in the Bahamas under new political leadership at the Gaming Board, with Christie gone; failed. This is how leading journalists, Jeremy Kohler and Jacob Barker at the St. Louis-Post Dispatch, a major American newspaper described Sorkis Webbe and the Bahamian flawed enterprise; “This was not Webbe’s first rodeo. The former city alderman had been convicted of voter fraud and obstruction of justice in 1985. His bust followed the conviction of his father for income tax evasion in Nevada in 1983. The IRS case against Sorkis Webbe Sr. related to his interests in the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas, which was then controlled by the Detroit Mafia. “Documents released by the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act in October 2020 show Webbe Jr. and his late father were embroiled in a power struggle with St. Louis Mafia leader Matthew Trupiano and the Detroit Mafia in 1982. The conflict developed because the Detroit mobsters and Trupiano were leaning on Webbe Sr. to cut them in on the skim from a casino in the Bahamas, according to the FBI. The Detroit Mafia believed that Webbe Sr. had ripped them off in the Aladdin casino deal in Las Vegas and wanted to be repaid through sharing in the ill-gotten gains from the Bahamian gambling operation, according to the FBI. “Though the FBI records were released only last month, details of the rift between the Webbes and Trupiano had already been reported

decades ago by the Post-Dispatch — but that background information was inexplicably omitted from the newspaper’s coverage of Webbe Jr.’s part in the Stenger affair.” The political upheaval and toxic climate which gripped the Bahamas as a new Royal Commission of Inquiry was appointed in the Bahamas in 1983 to inquire into other (nonGaming) related issues, pushed to the background, the story of how the integrity of the Gaming Industry in the Bahamas was on the line and Perry G. Christie took the blows and the country averted a disaster. Christie would be called back to the control room of the ship of state upon his re-election as Prime Minister in 2012 general elections. International financial bodies were scape goating the country on the illegal locally ran Web Shop gaming industry. Christie took it a referendum and lost badly. All seemed lost. Summoning indomitable will and intellect to right a colossal wrong occasioned by a culture of mythical disarrangement on gaming, the Christie/Davis administration brought new legislation to Parliament which legalized the local gaming houses whilst also giving renaissance to the Casino industry. Today the country’s gaming industry is purloined and girded by these legislative foundations.

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26 Bet On The Bahamas

The Journey of


The Grand Master of Bahamian Gaming

“Everybody Wins”

turned FLOWERS into a house hold name and lit the spark for a regularized, legalized industry Craig Flowers has in his own indomitable, humble fashion embedded his name, legacy and values into the modern history of The Bahamas.


rom growing up around his father’s Laundromat and other businesses in the inner city of Nassau to flying commercial jets in Mu'ammar Al-Qadhdhāfī”s Libya, and finding time to play and inspire a generation of Bahamian golfers, Mr. Flowers is eager to salute the other Bahamian giants in the Gaming Industry on whose shoulders he proudly stands.

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CRAIG FLOWERS RETURNS HOME AS A DECORATED COMMERCIAL PILOT IN LIBYA TO SNATCH VICTORY FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT AND ESTABLISH BAHAMIAN OWNED GAMING. For more than a century Bahamians supported an underground and illegal numbers or lottery business. Police raids and arrests. Dishonest bookies who disappeared with a customer’s winnings. The owners of these businesses; like Father Allen, Laverne Bowe Stuart, Percy Munnings, Gene Toote, Cecil Gonzalez were all pillars of the community and respected philanthropists and loaned monies at minimal interests rates to keep Bahamians on their feet. When the decorated Bahamian Pilot Craig Flowers returned home from commercial jet flying in Colonel Mohmar Ghaddafi’s Libya, the business reached a new fevered pitch. Craig’s dad, Arnold Flowers anchored the family’s fortunes in a chain of laundromats or wash houses across the over the hill or inner city. Craig tells the story of how Ms. Robinson, a kind friendly matriarch of the Market Street north community would often complain about the abuse suffered at the hands of dishonest

bookie. It moved Craig to jump into the business with the single lofty goal of ensuring that no winning bet went unpaid and dishonest bookies were exposed and ferreted out of the system. The local gaming business had previously conducted itself off individual platforms of the various owners. Each one “threw” their own lottery two ball- from single 1 to 100. Hence the whispered question through the day on the jitney stop, in the office, the straw market or the popular fish man’s dock at Potters Cay under the Paradise Island bridge was :- ‘what Percy do?’; You hear from Toote throw yet?’, “what fall in Bowe?’ Flowers and Cecil Gonzalez who operated at Dowdeswell Street in eastern New Providence were experimenting with changing the local platform to the lottery draws in the individual states of the United States of America. Now the new talk was:-“What fall in Miami?’, “Chicago bring the triple 7 right back”, “I got a $1 box on the four ball in Miami”. What made this platform even more engaging to Bahamian patrons was the legitimacy of the USA draws. Bahamians

could put in their number, hold their tickets and watch the live draw of any lottery on Cable television. Padding balls which was a fear in the old system and removing certain balls from the draw bag was now out of the window. With Bahamians having this unusually close fiduciary link to Florida or as we call it “Miami” the Florida Lottery with its weekly draw of millions of dollars in a turn over pool was even more appealing. Gene Toote left Nassau every Friday morning on the red eye flight to transact hundreds of lottery tickets for Bahamians. When Toote arrived at Lums Restaurant down town after 7pm on Fridays hundreds of Bahamians were queued up to retrieve their tickets. Toote made $5 dollars off every five card entry ticket. Cecil Gonzalez had a colorful history with local horse racing. With hundreds of Bahamians who for more than forty years earned a living at the now closed Hobby Horse Hall race track, Gonzalez had technicians give him a live feed from Calder and Gulfstream Horse tracks daily and Bahamians packed into his theatre at Dowdeswell Street to bet on the races. The digital and electronic age had caught up with the old system of writing numbers on paper and keeping bets stored and tabulated on a bet spread sheet. Flowers invested in an electronic platform and patrons could apply to become a card carrying member, be given a log in code which was personal and private to the player and numbers or bets could be placed on line. Winnings automatically were credited to accounts at these Web Shops.

28 Bet On The Bahamas

Yet the business was still illegal. Patrons risked it while always having to look over

arrested and Police buses now arrive to cart them off for processing at the Police Stations all over the island. In most Web Shops the dawn of the commercial bank ATM machine gives bettors another chance to withdraw their winnings rather than tow a cashier’s line at the Web Shop. The Police are now raiding Web Shops and confiscating the ATMs- hundreds of thousands of dollars stored in these systems. Concerned citizens were pressing the Free National Movement FNM Government led by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham to legalize the Web Shops. Ingraham began making overtures to the public to suggest this was under positive consideration. And then he caved to the religious right wing lobby.

their shoulder. Unscrupulous police shook down bettors and Web Shop operators. Police raids were colorful. On a busy Monday evening while scores of bettors were assembling at Gonzalez’s parlor came the wail of a fire engine siren. Scores of uniformed “firemen” on the back of fire trucks screaming up the street. The lead fire truck halts a few doors down from the parlor and Firemen get off as if they are searching for a Fire Hydrant. Bettors are offering advice and moving their vehicles to give the Fire trucks space. Baps. Scores of fireman rush the parlor. Announce it is Police Raid. Gonzalez electronic equipment is confiscated. The bettors are all

Perry Christie and the PLP are returned to office in the 2012 general elections and The Bahamas is in the cross hairs of the international financial world which was raising concerns about transactional transparency on the financial system with the “illegal” numbers business able to get their monies into commercial banks and the very present danger of how more dirtier monies could be washed in this system. Christie decided to act. But he appeared to suggest that while his Government would go to Referendum for the Bahamian people to decide on the legalization of Web Shop gaming and the Government’s introduction of a National Lottery; he had “no horse in the race.” These cautionary words may have sealed the fate of the Referendum’s result.

‘Age Aint Nothing but a Number’ Mr. Flowers has taken his enterprise across the border. Everybody Wins is in Haiti and looking at other eastern Caribbean destinations. This proves the sustainability of this industry and the acumen and diligence Bahamians put into it. It’s all about giving even more back to the Bahamian people. Mr. Flowers purchased prime West Bay Street properties which were once the Ocean Spray Hotel. He constructed an ultra-modern multi floor level office complex, nicely placed in a court yard landscaped with an ever green lush golf course lawn. A lover of Bahamian talent, he commissioned a bronze statue of Ronnie Butler, considered the 20th century virtuoso of Bahamian music which sits on the compound. Ronnie Butler’s last big hit was a duet with the late perennial Count Bernardino, “Age Aint Nothing but a number”. Craig Flowers can attest to this. “My vision is all of the Operators to commit a percentage of their income to a fund which will be placed in a new Bahamian owned bank and those funds will be made available to Bahamians for housing and consumer loans at very attractive interest rates,” he says. “Everybody wins,” he says in his velvet voice.

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‘Bahamianization was the magic wand which transformed Gaming in the Bahamas and today the industry maintains its top notch regulated regime with the best the world can offer’ Interviewer: What is the Board’s Vision for the Industry in the (1) international/foreign Casino/Hotel) structure and (2) in the domestic Web Shop Gaming sector? Dr. Johnson: The Board’s present vision is to bring us into the 21st century. To re-brand the Bahamas as a world class destination, location and regulatory environment; where legal gaming is possible. In the re-branding effort we want the Bahamas to take its rightful place as being the best place in the entire region north, west, east and south and in this hemisphere for people to enjoy the entertainment, the action and environment of gaming on a global scale. This includes hotels and casinos, E Sports, Sports Bet, Horse Racing, NASCAR series, major sporting events and will also include the domestic gaming industry being able to expand its operations into I Gaming and I Sports in order to compete with what is happening elsewhere in the region. The essence of this transformation is one (1) to bring the brand ‘It’s Better in the Bahamas’ into this sector and two (2) to expand the opportunities for the Bahamas to grow in a massive industry worldwide.

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Dr. Daniel Johnson,

Executive Chairman of the Gaming Board for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas sets an even higher course for spectacular growth for Gaming, the Casinos and Gaming Houses.

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The Bahamas is known around the world. We are very well regulated and very well respected in the industry globally

heard from so many international sources in the last fifty years on the stability and uniqueness of our product for the Bahamas not to have developed this discipline at this high level?

Interviewer: Dr. Johnson in many foreign jurisdictions, a Casino may not be a part of a hotel or resort property. Has the peculiar position of the Bahamas with hotel operators running the casinos and filling their rooms have a slower impact or affect/effect on the Bahamas’s Gaming industry finding its individuality and in its distinct international marketing flair? Dr. Johnson: In many jurisdictions around the world casinos may or may not be a part of a resort property. For instance in Monte Carlo, in London and New Jersey many casinos are standalone facilities whereby they take on a character of their own. But generally in the Bahamas the hotel and the casino have been linked together. The idea was to have an impact on room rates and this has had a varying effect on the growth and individuality of this industry and marketplace. The growth of course is limited to the Casino and whatever its property is doing and secondly the individuality of what a Monte Carlo or a Bahamian Club Casino environment will become or look like. It has never grown in this distinct flair in this environment and it will be interesting to see in the years to come. I think we have some applications for boutique casinos and boutique gaming and live streaming and I Sports and I Gaming and these may be stand-alone facilities on various islands and this will create a whole new flair and feel within this industry. Interviewer: What would be three (3) main factors The Executive Chairman of the Gaming Board for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas would tell a high school graduating class in your country about a career in the Gaming Industry? Why is Gaming not a field of endeavor at the University of the Bahamas? We have


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Dr. Johnson: So the thing we have to do now is to prepare young people for 21st century Gaming. We are already in the third decade of this amazing, challenging new century. Gaming in its completeness is a massive multi- billion dollar industry world -wide and the Bahamas has a brand that stands out in this industry. And we have not taken full advantage of it. For instance, there should be courses; legal, compliance; and the whole thing about industry standards within the University of the Bahamas. There should be an introduction to this in the High Schools to see if our young people are really interested in seeing what this industry has to offer. And more over; acquainting students with the possibilities and realities in Gaming. We have a very unique product. The Bahamas is known around the world. We are very well regulated and very well respected in the industry globally and we should get young Bahamians to understand the stability and the uniqueness of what we have and that they should be on the forefront of the developments to come. On the local side we had two major movements in the regulatory environment in the Bahamas. One in 1969 and the next one in 2014. Both by Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Administrations. The first one was to regularize Casinos and Casino Gaming and the second one was to regularize Local Gaming. In this process, I think we have done a good job in allowing the industry to come into its own and we also know that we can do more and so for in the years to come, we will be looking at both sides. Seeing how they can integrate and seeing what is going to happen and seeing if they wish to expand and we are a regulator and a facilitator towards this end. Interviewer: The Bahamas’s Constitution forbids Bahamians playing in the Casino. Is it recognizable to you that the Founding Fathers were influenced by a prevailing religious dogma or perception on Gambling when they did this and if so how do we as a progressive country move beyond subjective dicta in order to grow the industry and remove the stigma once attached to Gaming in our country?

Dr. Johnson: We have to tackle the issue of equality and discrimination. The Bahamas Constitution at this time forbids Bahamians playing in the casinos at hotels. We must recognize that the Founding Fathers were influenced by a prevailing dogma at the time on Gambling. And the time is nearing when we are going to have to ask why. And shouldn’t we? And should Tourists be allowed to play at Island Luck and Chances and Flowers (local Gaming Houses) and this one and that one. And why can’t Bahamians if they wish to go to the casino and bet on the Lakers, the Kentucky Derby … is allowed to do so. That is fast approaching and it is a choice that the Bahamian people will have to make for themselves. But as a regulator I don’t see why we should have a discriminatory practice against our own people in their own country.

The Honorable Oscar N Johnson senior, former PLP MP for Cat Island who argued that Casinos should be on Wulff Road and the inner city to grow the indigenous “over the hill” economy.

Interviewer: This question is peculiar for you because your dad the late Oscar Johnson was a Member of the House of Assembly when then governing party Cabinet Minister with responsibility for Finance, the Hon. Carlton Elisha Francis, resigned his portfolio to protest a collective Cabinet decision to grant a new Casino license in this country. Your late Father was of the opinion that Wulff Road, the demarcation line of Bay Street- the tourist and merchant and cruise ship and container port of the day and the inner city and suburbs – needed to have a Casino. Was Mr. Johnson advocating a Casino where Bahamians could gamble or just a Casino to re-distribute international Casino players beyond this economic demarcation line? Dr. Johnson: Many things come full circle and this is peculiar for myself as my father Oscar Johnson Senior as a Member of the House of Assembly with the PLP at the time when he saw his good friend the Honourable Carlton Elisha Francis with responsibility for Finance the Ministry of Finance who resigned his portfolio in protest over a collective decision to grant new casino licenses in this country. At the time my father had said in no uncertain times that Wulff Road at the demarcation line of Bay Street … the tourists, cruise ship container port of the day and the inner city suburbs should have their own casino. And tourists should be able to decide where they wish to go. Unfortunately we have drawn this invisible line and tourists play on that side and we play on this side. I think in the years to come you will see the re-distribution of this economic line and the economic demarcation line break down and people will play where they wish. Interviewer: Dr. Johnson there is concerns that certain factors under new local gaming legislation lagged behind. Since your coming to office as Executive Chairman appointed under a new PLP Administration, how is the Board poised to address this?

The Honorable Carlton Elisha Francis, distinguished Educator and Minister of Finance, who balked at Casino Gambling extensions in the 1970s by the then Pindling/ Hanna Progressive Liberal Party Government

Dr. Johnson: You will also see in the near future a massive push by the Gaming Board to restructure something that is within the law. And that is the corporate sponsorship initiative where we will take a percentage of the gross earnings and put it to an Advisory Group who will encourage that these funds be engaged in the communities to assist people with responsible Gaming. To assist in the development of Sports and Athletics, to assist in the development of Education, Health Care and Wellness, Premier, middle income and low income Housing, Senior Cit-

Bet On The Bahamas 33

You will also see in the near future a massive push by the Gaming Board to restructure something that is within the law.

izen retirement homes; and to see that this is happening on a consistent basis in this market. Mass Communications, advertising and marketing efforts will be included to show what we are doing locally and internationally. We want to ensure that everything in this Gaming sector is absolutely explained. To this end the Gaming Board is also now going to have a monitoring and evaluation component to make sure the social and economic impact of some of these communities is monitored and evaluated on a quarterly basis and reported to this Advisory Board. On this Board will be a variety of persons, former distinguished Police and Defence Force Officers, the religious communities, psychology, psychiatry addiction specialists, social and community activists and of course the people who are industry experts. Interviewer: We have seen some reports which suggest that responsible Gaming is an undercurrent. Can you set the bar higher? When wagers are permitted in the Gaming Houses as low as 0.05 cents is often misunderstood. There are one cent slot machines in the Casinos. Dr. Johnson: And we hope that work and diligence of this committee can and


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will assist us in making sure we enforce the idea strictly on responsible Gaming on both sides of the table. Interviewer: To enhance Gaming in the Bahamas you would have to consider the adoption of some other components which are no longer available in the Bahamas.

The Honorable Arthur Dion Hanna, credited with pioneering advocacy for the Bahamianization Policy; which broke the barrier for Bahamian employment and ownership in the Gaming Industry

Dr. Johnson: I’m glad you brought me to this page. In the near future you are going to see the return of Horse racing. We know we had the Hobby Horse Hall; for forty (40) unbroken years which unfortunately closed in 1976 in Nassau. Let’s look around us today. The horse racing industry is now vibrant all over Asia, the

we can come out of this with even more stand-alone Gaming components.

We are also going to see the E Gaming and I Gaming become centered here.

Interviewer: The Board seems ready to hit the international highways at full speed. You have to continue to sell the Bahamas and in particular with so much international competition the Bahamas has to be aggressive, innovative and sure footed. Dr. Johnson: In our new dispensation we are now going to do a rapid fire world tour and get together with all of the high rollers in the Gaming Industry and invite them to see why we say ‘It’s Better in the Bahamas’. Why the winds of change are blowing in this direction and why the thoughts and ideas and innovations and action will be in this country called The Bahamas for a long time to come. Interviewer: How do you shore that up with getting everyone on page, in sync locally?

Middle East, the United States, Canada, and Europe and in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados. In the Bahamas today we still have a few of the masters of local horse racing industry alive and with us. We are looking forward to a big announcement on the return of horse racing to the Bahamas. We are also going to see the E Gaming and I Gaming become centered here. We are going to have a hub in the Bahamas on this part of the industry which is internationally and probably the fastest growing path that we can use to take full advantage of this modern fast growing, exciting and very powerful movement among young people who are on line playing these games anyway and now there are millions of them who are engaged in small bets. But we want to see a major push on this. This summer we are going to have a Conference in the Bahamas we are going to have a professional team that is centered in the Bahamas. We will watch these kinds of games on our televisions and live streaming services on the weekends and have the Gaming access technologies to so engage. Interviewer: Gaming generates very huge revenue streams. Do we as a people get that point?

Dr. Johnson: The next thing you will see is we are going to go to the industry and see what we can do to shore up the industry and ask them about how would regulatory regimes they see coming are going to make all of the stake holders cognizant and ready and prepared. We want to make sure we have the frame works in place. We want to promote the idea of this amount of revenue passing through the system that some of these monies passing through the system are put aside; put in a rainy day fund and put to social responsibility programmes. The Board wants to make sure that this isn’t just a pie in the sky which suddenly passes and the general society does not benefit and then apart from the absolute and perfunctory warnings about how governments and civil society are supposed to work we want to make sure that Gaming remains a major part of our hospitality and entertainment sector and a great employer. We have to show this. This publication is intended to do just that. Bring more clarity to the Bahamian people and indeed the world on Gaming in this country. We will reveal the economic impact of gaming over the last 100 years. We are showing that Gaming has been very significant and perhaps if we in the future allow this industry even more growth on the technology side;

Dr. Johnson: The Gaming Board is also going to go to a full public education programme so Bahamians can grasp the concept of the Casinos and Gaming Houses and that these actually belong to them and the Bahamian Government. The Operators are on a license. These are licensees. And when our people grasp this concept properly then we will see Bahamians behaving like the Owners of this Gaming industry. To this point the behavior is consistent with only being employees in the Industry. So people misunderstand the full function of the Gaming Board for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It is for us to show and demonstrate and discharge the rights and privileges of the Sovereign Government in the management of this process so that the people will know that they own this Industry and we allow for licensees. And hopefully we will see more people getting involved in ownership. Interviewer: Does the Board have sufficient time, given how the wheels of change move in this country, to get most of its agenda done? Dr. Johnson: At the end of our tenure we are going to see the Gaming Board take on a new role in the Bahamas as a regulator and a facilitator which pushes the global brand of the Bahamas as be-

Bet On The Bahamas 35

We know that in the first 50 years of Gaming in the Bahamas ALL of the Casino Staff operators, dealers and ownership were expatriate, foreign workers from around the world.

ing the best place in the world to enjoy Gaming, Entertainment and Hospitality. We are going to see this industry grow several times in the next five to ten years and we are going to see the benefits accrued to this growth permeate into wider society helping young people; building a better and stronger middle class and helping our institutions and increasing the push we started in 1967 on the grand national adventure of Bahamianization. I want to talk about Bahamianization as it relates to Gaming. It is significant to note that the Bahamianization process has had no greater effect than what was experienced in the Gaming Industry. We know that in the first 50 years of Gaming in the Bahamas ALL of the Casino Staff operators, dealers and ownership were expatriate, foreign workers from around the world. Post 1969 and then coming into the 1970s and coming into Independence when a real push was made for the Bahamianization of the Tourism product the major area where this was done… unmasked… was in the Gaming Industry. It was where we saw almost all of the Dealers, Casino Employees and most of Middle Management being made Bahamian. This is significant on two levels. Point number One (1) it showed the Government’s policy and point number two (2) we can see the effect of such a policy. The effectiveness of Bahamianizing


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the industry brought about hundreds… I dare say thousands of well-paying stable jobs in the Gaming Industry. Many of the these people who became Dealers, Cage Managers, Pit bosses, Cashiers, Gaming Inspectors have actually come from low income working class families and have seen their families move into a growing middle class; secure progressive life styles and provide for their children going off to college or University and College at home. Families are able to build generational wealth. The significance of this is if we were to look at this fairly and squarely I think there has not been any other industry in the Bahamas with the process of Bahamianization which has had such a broad economic impact. We see in the latter 50 years as we have regularized the local Gaming industry and now again thousands of Bahamians are employed in this industry and now this industry is now all Bahamian designed and constructed and engineered and this is real Bahamianization and I would say Bahamianization at its very best. This is a really important work as I think without a proper examination of the Gaming Industry for what it is globally and locally we may have underestimated the impact and all of the off shoots that this industry has contributed to the development of the Bahamas. Now when we go from those earliest facilities in hos-

pitality and entertainment; in Cat Cay Bimini; Exuma; Grand Bahama with the twin casinos… Royal Oasis; and then of course in Nassau now the two giants of Atlantis and Baha-Mar and before those - Crystal Palace and Casino which was world famous on Goodman’s Bay – The Playboy Casino - we really made a name for ourselves and we were so successful over a long period of time. The impact of what it has done for our economy. The raw straight up economic impact of this industry as it relates to foreign cash reserves, cash flows and high level employment is significant and when we look at this we need to give Gaming its proper place in our economic history and national agenda and see what we can do to continue to grow and own this marvelous industry. Interviewer: In a very short advertising sentence or phrase tell how you would sell the Bahamas’s Gaming Industry to the high rollers of the world? Dr. Johnson: Come. Make the Islands of the Bahamas your playground for regulated Gaming in sync with fabulous Entertainment, pampered hospitality, friendliest people and a safe bet you will return. Interviewer: Thank You.




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Obie Wilchcombe was in the chair as Minister of Tourism with responsibility for Gaming during the business of the gaming referendum and eventually the Government’s historic and bold move to bring what was known as the Web Shops into regularized, lawful gaming for their Bahamian patrons. Minister Wilchcombe’s diplomacy and grace under the political pressure of the bruising rhetoric of the period has won him wide spread endearment and popularity in the country. Mr. Wilchcombe serves as Minister for Social Services and represents the constituency of West End Grand Bahama and the Island of Bimini, home of Resorts World.


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In 1969, the Lotteries and Gaming Act was passed by the Bahamas’ Parliament and ushered in the licensing and regulation of casino gaming, under the authority of a Gaming License.

n this regard, pursuant to Section 33(1) of the “1969 Act”; the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas was the only person entitled to the grant of a license under the “1969 Act” to carry on the business of Gaming on any premises. Interestingly, whilst the grant of a gaming license was issued solely to the Hotel Corporation to carry on the business of gaming on relevant premises; Section 34 of the “1969 Act” enabled applications to be made for a license to manage the relevant premises provided the applicant possessed a consenting certificate from the Hotel Corporation. The advent of the offering of regularized gaming in casinos which were attached to Hotel Resorts in The Bahamas, catering solely to international visitors, continued unabated for forty five (45) years. In the year 2014, The Bahamas made progressive strides by including into the mainstream of the regulated gaming, an industry which catered solely to domestic players. Such strides were accomplished through the passage by The Bahamas’ Parliament of the Gaming Act, 2014. The passage of the “2014 Act” resulted in the repeal and replacement of the “1969 Act”. The “2014 Act” is indeed significant as it sought to conform with international best-practice standards by putting in place stringent qualification requirements for participation in gaming and related activities and also established a more stringent regulatory process for the licensing and regulation of the gaming industry. The “2014 Act” is also significant as it provides for updated technological changes in the gaming world whilst extending the licensing power of the Gaming Board to usher in the previously unregulated

“Web Shop” gaming into a regulated environment. In essence, the stability of the regulatory environment is highly dependent upon the effective and comprehensive law enforcement mechanisms for the identification and elimination of illegal operations as provided for in the “2014 Act”.

gations to determine each applicant’s suitability to hold a Gaming House Operator License through the fulfillment of the qualification standards as articulated in Section 24 of the “2014 Act”; and ensuring that such applicants were not disqualified pursuant to Section 25 and 26 of the “2014 Act”.

Thus, the ushering in of “Web Shops” came by way of transitory provisions inherent in the “2014 Act”. Prior to licensure, by and through Section 85(16) of the “2014 Act”; as at the effective date of 24th November, 2014, it became lawful for any establishment carrying on the business of “Web Shop Gaming”, provided certain conditions were met, to continue operation of such business for a period commencing on the effective date and ending on a date as specified by the Gaming Minister by notice in the Gazette for closure of all such “Web Shop” businesses. “Web Shops” who had failed to meet the prescribed criterion during the transitory period were required to close immediately.

In October 2015, at the conclusion of the probity investigation process, the Gaming Board recommended to the Gaming Minister that eight (8) applicants be awarded a Gaming House Operator License. On such recommendation, a public statement was issued by the then Honourable Obadiah Wilchcombe which pronounced the eight (8) companies that had been found to have met their burden of proof and thereby qualified to be awarded a Conditional Gaming House Operator License. The successful applicants were listed as follows: 1. FML Group of Companies Limited (t/a FML Webshop) 2. GLK Limited (t/a A Sure Win) 3. Jarol Investments Limited (t/a Chances) 4. Paradise Games Bahamas Limited (t/a Paradise Games) 5. Playtech Systems Limited (t/a Island Luck) 6. T.I.G. Investments Limited (t/a Percy’s at the Island Game) 7. The Four Point Group Limited (t/a Asue Draw + Spin) 8. Bahama Dreams Web Cafe Limited (t/a Bahama Dreams)

The Gaming Board formally commenced in December 2014, the Request For Proposal (“RFP”) process as contemplated in the “2014 Act” through the issuance of a notice in the Gazette extending an invitation to those “Web Shops” that had met the criterion to remain open during the transitional period to participate in the “RFP” process for a license which would formally be deemed a “Gaming House Operator License”. By March 2015, nine (9) responses to the “RFP” were received by the Gaming Board. Responses to the “RFP” in effect constituted an application for a Gaming House Operator License. The Gaming Board then conducted probity investi-

The naming of the first lot of successful Gaming House Operator Licensees officially sounded the alarm in the Bahamas of the regulation of the domestic gaming sector and as such today, the regulation of “Gaming Houses” continues in full effect.

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GAME ON Bahamian Game House Operators were in London in May 2022 for the ICE Gaming Conference, along with a delegation from the Gaming Board led by Dr. Daniel Johnson, Executive Chairman. From left to right at the Mayfair Hotel, Pete Deveaux Percy’s Island Game, Raymond Culmer Chances, Craig Flowers Everybody Wins, Sebastian Bastian Island Luck, Gavin Newball and Leander Brice both from A Sure Win. (Kevin Knowles - Paradise Games did not attend.)

Gaming House Operators List 2022 Mr. Leander Brice Mr. Garvin Newball Chief Executive Officers GLK Limited t/a A Sure Win #1 Summer Winds Plaza Tonique Williams-Darling Highway Nassau, Bahamas

Mr. Antoine Roker Chief Executive Officer Bahama Dreams Web Café Limited t/a Ultra Games East Bay Street & Okra Hill Nassau, Bahamas

Mr. Raymond Culmer President & Chief Executive Officer Jarol Investments Limited t/a Chances Ruthaven Plaza, Logwood Road Freeport, The Bahamas

Mr. Sebastian Bastian Chief Executive Officer Playtech Systems Limited t/a Island Luck #65 Collins Avenue & 6th Terrace Nassau, Bahamas

Mr. Kevin Knowles Chief Executive Officer Paradise Games Bahamas Ltd. Balfour Avenue & Miami Street Nassau, Bahamas

Mr. Pete Deveaux Chief Executive Officer T. I. G. Investments Ltd. t/a Percy’s at the Island Game BSB House West Bay Street Nassau, Bahamas

Mr. Jason Flowers Chief Executive Officer FML Group of Companies Ltd. t/a Nassau Games West Bay Street Nassau, Bahamas

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Mr. Ian Tynes


Secretary Of The Gaming Board Of The Bahamas

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Secretary Of The GamingBoard Of The Bahamas . ‘A world class tourism product with a sterling reputation for regulated Gaming’ Board Secretary Tynes in a wide ranging interview on the industry and future of the industry in the Bahamas. Question: What is your job as Secretary to the Board and what are your responsibilities and duties to the Bahamian people? Secretary Tynes: To provide overall leadership and have responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the Gaming Board for The Bahamas. To be responsible for the supervision of all Senior Executive Team members. To develop and maintain an effective organizational structure for the Gaming Board by delegating to the Senior Executive Team the functions and responsibilities required to run the operations of the Gaming Board. To evaluate management operations and financial performance and report to the Appointed Board on such results. Communicate all matters of significance related to the Gaming Board and the Gaming Industry to with the Appointed Board and to ensure that the Board is being provided with the information necessary to fulfill its legal duties and responsi-

bilities and to make good decisions. To present an annual budget to the Appointed Board for approval. To execute directives given by the Appointed Board. To ensure that all requests submitted to the Board by the Gaming Industry or otherwise are circulated to relevant departments for timely responses. To conduct weekly meetings with the Board’s Executive Management Team to keep abreast of departmental issues. To ensure that policies and procedures for the Board are developed in accordance with best practices and that the same are being adhered to. To cultivate a work environment that is positive, ethical, professional, safe and productive for staff members. To keep current with trends in the industry and to ensure that the both management and line staff are positioned to adequately respond. To review reports, make presentations to the Appointed Board and to exercise fiscal prudence with a view of minimizing expenses and increasing revenue.

To oversee the timely completion of reports required for the Board Meetings. To ensure that the integrity of the Gaming Board and the Gaming Industry is maintained to the highest possible standard. To ensure that the provisions of the Gaming Act, Rules and Regulations 2014 are adhered to by Casino and Gaming Operators; and to report any violations of same to the Board. To ensure that presentations to the Appointed Board are made on the status of legislative information. Additionally, to protect the integrity of the Gaming Industry by keeping it free from the influences of organized crime; by assuring the honesty, good character and integrity of all licensed operators and employees; and to ensure that Gaming is conducted fairly and in accordance with the provisions of the Gaming Act (2014), the Gaming Regulations (2014), the Gaming House Operator Regulations (2014) and the Gaming Rules (2015).

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Question :How has your long years with the Board and your eventful experiences prepared you for this role and what do you want to accomplish? Secretary Tynes: Throughout my tenure, I have been assigned to all of section within the Inspectorate: Enforcement /Casino Operations, Audit/ Gaming Accounting and Financial Services, Investigations/ Licensing, Electronic Services (Technical Compliance). The experiences I’ve gained in the various departments have made me into a well-rounded individual who have good institutional knowledge of the inner working of the Gaming Board and the Gaming Industry. The Board is in the late stages of embarking on an eCommerce platform where Licensees can submit and pay gaming taxes electronically through a portal. Additionally, submission for applications for Suppliers License, Key and Gaming License for Casino and Gaming House Employees, Certificate of Suitability, Renewal of Applications. This would position the Board to be more efficient in executing it duties in a timely manner. Question: The Gaming Inspectorate is a very highly specialized skill set. There are some who think that the Board’s perception by Bahamians has been colored by the appointment of former Police Officers to key roles here. How would you describe the responsibilities and duties of the Board to the Bahamian people which will allow them to fully grasp what you do here? Secretary Tynes: I concur that in the past that former Police Officer held key positions at the Board. The Board is a regulatory body that regulates both commercial casino and domestic gaming houses. The Board’s Mission Statement indicates: to protect the integrity of the Gaming Industry by keeping it free from the influences of organized crime; by assuring the honesty, good character and integrity of all licensed operators and employees; and to ensure that Gaming is conducted fairly and in accordance with the provisions of the Gaming Act (2014), the Gaming Regulations (2014), the Gaming House


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Operator Regulations (2014) and the Gaming Rules (2015). My responsibility to the Bahamian is to ensure that gaming is conducted in a fair manner as prescribed. Further, to ensure that the Gaming public fully understand the role of the Gaming Board. The Board has embraced technology by launching its website which contains Gaming Act (2014), the Gaming Regulations (2014), the Gaming House Operator Regulations (2014) and the Gaming Rules (2015), Proceeds of Crime Act, Financial Transaction Reporting (Gaming) Regulations 2014. The Board in conjunction with the Gaming House Operators Association has participate in seminars as it relates to problem gaming. Further, the Board has sponsor television and newspaper advertisements regarding illegal gambling, customer complaints and problem gaming to ensure that the gaming public are well informed.

Question : We have instances in the past where Casino Operators were delinquent in their obligations to the state. How is that to be avoided moving forward?

Question: How is tomorrow’s Gaming Board Inspector being prepared for the modernization of E & I Gaming?

Secretary Tynes: Baha Mar Casino has dispelled a myth that two (2) large casinos could not operate profitably in Nassau. What Baha Mar has done is to increase the tourism product with its aggressive marketing campaign. This is a positive situation for the Bahamas as far as a spin off effect from boosted tourist arrival/ rooms/ jobs etc. and subsequently Gaming Taxes being forwarded to the consolidated fund (Treasury). Overall positive impact on the economy.

Secretary Tynes: In preparation for regulating eSports Betting and iGaming in this jurisdiction, the Board has been pro-actively attending conferences and in the near future to attend courses at University of Las Vegas Nevada (UNLV) to educate the Inspectorate regarding subject matter. Additionally, the Board has hired specialist in Race and Sport-book who are very competent in understanding the industry. Additionally, the Board has sponsored staff members in obtaining certifications in Master of Laws in Gaming Law, UNLV and Diploma in Compliance and Risk Management, University of London, UK. Further, the Board has sponsored 21 a combined 21 management and line staff in certification in ICA Be ICA Specialist Certificate in Money Laundering Risk in Betting and Gaming, University of Manchester, UK. There was an 85% pass with merit. Further, the Board is in the process of identifying key personnel to participate in a course offered by the Block Chain Intelligence Group (Certified Crypto Currency Investigator).

Secretary Tynes: Prior to the enactment of the Gaming Act 2014, the Ministry of Finance had responsibility for the collection of Gaming Taxes (Lottery and Gaming Act 1997). Casinos would submit their Gaming Taxes directly to the Treasury and notify the Board regarding the same. With the new legislation, the Gaming Board is tasked with collection of Gaming Taxes. If a Casino fails to remit taxes as prescribed in the Act, penalties and interest are added. Additionally, suspension or revocation of Gaming License is a consequence of failing to submit Gaming Taxes. Question: How does the Casino at Baha-Mar do for the Bahamas’s re-positioning in the industry?

Question : Walk us through figures so the Bahamian people can appreciate what the Gaming Industry achieves in national revenue? Secretary Tynes: The gaming industry contributes a combined (Gaming Houses/Commercial Casinos) average of forty million dollars in Gaming Taxes to the Treasury. Question : How would you design a course in Gaming for the University of the Bahamas? Secretary Tynes: A gaming course at the University of the Bahamas should begin with the history of gaming in this jurisdiction, from illegal to legal.

Legislation progression for gaming commencing with the Lotteries Prohibition Act of 1901 all Lotteries and Gaming were illegal in The Bahamas. In 1905 this Act was repealed and replaced by the Lotteries and Gaming Act of that year. However, on January 1, 1924 the Penal Code was enacted, of which Chapter 48 repealed the Act of 1905. The Penal Code of 1924 came into operation on January 1, 1927. Chronological list of Casinos in this jurisdiction by year. History of the Gaming Board and governing regulations. Basic knowledge in casino and gaming house operations (Table Games/ Cashier Cage/Slots/Surveillance/ Security/Sports book and Parimutuel Wagering etc). Additionally, showing the positive and negative effect of gaming in society (economic/problem gambling). Further, basic Business Administration course which shall include marketing). This course at UB would prepare Bahamian jobs in all aspects of Gaming including lucrative management jobs. Question : What would be the number one assurance about Casino Gaming and Sports Betting that you would want to give the world about the Bahamas industry which makes us winners, trailblazers and internationally relevant and cognizant? Secretary Tynes: The Bahamas was the first country in Caribbean to have sports betting and parimutuel wagering in casinos inclusive of the eastern part of the United States of America. Prior to implementation in 1997, the Board ensured that key personnel participated in operational and technical training with a view of provided the highest level of regulating. Question : Break down for the Bahamian people the echelon of the Gaming Board and job descriptions and duties and responsibilities? Secretary Tynes : This is the breakdown :Departments Legal Services The Legal Division handles any and all legal issues which may arise during the course of the Board's regulatory duties. Their duties that range from the drafting and review

and of internal policies to the overseeing of legal proceedings before the courts. The Department provides appropriate legal advice and guidance to both the administrative and executive arms of the Board on a diverse range of substantive and procedural questions of law thereby firmly securing the interest of the Board. The duties of this Department also include serving on various standing boards, committees and ad-hoc working groups and task forces as required, to assist with the framing of policies. Accounting and Internal Controls (Compliance) The Compliance section is charged with responsibility of ensuring that the minimum standards for licensees are established and strictly adhered to through the approval and ongoing review and monitoring of mandatory Internal Control Submissions. The Compliance Section is also responsible for reviewing all incoming requests from both Casino and Gaming House Operators and making the necessary recommendations for approval. Compliance Department is to ensure that the integrity of gaming is protected along with the elimination of risk to money laundering and terrorists financing. Technical Compliance The Technical Compliance department has the responsibility to ensure the integrity of all gaming systems, devices and equipment within the jurisdiction through various tests and inspections and ultimately make recommendations to the Secretary for approval by the Gaming Board. Finance The Finance Division is essentially responsible for acquiring funds, managing funds within the organization and planning for the expenditure of funds on various assets of the Board throughout the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Gaming Accounting and Financial Services (Revenue & Taxes) The Revenue & Taxes department currently has a professional staff compliment of 9 employees who are all authorized agents of the Gaming Board.

The Revenue and Taxes department is charged with the following responsibilities: To ensure compliance with the relevant provisions of the Gaming Act, 2014 and Gaming Regulations, 2014, Gaming Rules 2015 and the Systems of Accounting and Internal Controls submitted by the respective licensed operator consistent with the Gaming Board’s duty as a Regulatory Authority (Gaming Act, Regulations 2014 & Gaming Rules 2015 – sections particularly in relation to revenues, taxes, fees, penalties, financial accounting and reporting) To ensure the accurate reporting of gaming revenues by licensed operators carefully reviewing any revenue adjustments; periodically performing cash counts to attest to the revenues generated from the counts and the accuracy of accounting documentation and internal controls To review filed tax returns to verify the accurate calculation of applicable taxes in accordance with the Gaming Regulations 2014 and Gaming House Operator Regulations 2014 To collect and record all gaming taxes, fees, penalties and interest owed by licensed operators, ensure taxes are paid on time and identify taxes owed and collect outstanding arrears (Gaming Act, Regulations & Rules) To routinely monitor licensed operator’s statistical performance; perform analytical reviews of the operating statistics and prepare monthly statistical reports on the operators’ financial performance and assist with the preparation of annual reports To prepare department’s contribution to the annual forecasts of gaming taxes and fees which are ultimately presented to the Ministry of Finance as a part of the annual Budget Revenue projections exercise. This exercise is prepared in conjunction with the Board’s Accounts department to conduct random and planned audits, the primary objective of which is to determine the proper reporting of gaming revenues and to determine whether the licensee has complied

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with all applicable Gaming Laws, Regulations, Rules and licensee’s ICS

fers, promotions, and other matters of like area.

Evaluate the financial information of the operators to monitor the entities continuing financial viability.

Professional Development & Training The Professional Development & Training Department is designed to equip the staff with the necessary skills that will seek to enhance their productivity level. In order to achieve this objective, the department develops training courses which serve to expose all staff to the global best practices that exist in their respective disciplines.

Administration The Administration Division is responsible for matters related to each employee’s personal and professional development as well as their overall well-being. This Division includes the following Departments: Human Resources The Human Resources Department provides guidance and insight on Human Resources questions and concerns. Inquiries relative to all leaves, inclusive but not limited to those of vacation, casual, maternity, and compassionate leave, are dealt with by the Human Resources Department. Assistance is also provided on all matters related to the Gaming Board’s group health insurance, National Insurance claim benefits, pension, industrial accidents, labour matters and hiring. The Human Resources Department bears the responsibility of inputting information, on a monthly basis, that is used to process staff salaries. Additionally, the Department prepares annual appraisals, reference letters and communication to staff on trans-


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Additionally, the Professional Development & Training Department is responsible for identifying local and international training opportunities in an effort to expose all staff to a diversified approach to the modern techniques that are available within the Gaming industry. The Professional Development & Training Department is in the process of creating a makeshift training casino which will provide an opportunity for trainees to receive firsthand experience regarding the actual mechanics of the casino games. This practical approach to training will be augmented with on-line training which is provided in various reputable international gaming jurisdictions.

Licensing The Licensing Department is responsible for reviewing applications and conducting probity investigations with respect to all individuals and companies who are required to be licensed and approved by the Board, based on their respective capacities. The purpose of the probity investigations is to determine whether such individuals or companies are suitable for licensing. Thus, these investigations are extensive and result in an examination of personal background and financial activity. Applicants include Casinos and Gaming House Operators, their gaming staff and Gaming Board Personnel. The Licensing Department produces detailed reports, with the assistance of the Security Intelligence Branch (S.I.B.) of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, and, when necessary, External Enforcement Agencies and other gaming regulatory bodies in various jurisdictions. To qualify for a license issued under the authority of the Gaming Act, 2014 one must meet the criteria laid down in Section 24 of the said legislation. Licenses, certificates or approvals may be issued with or without conditions. Registry & Data Entry This department is responsible for maintaining the security and confidentiality of all information received from the various Board Departments

for historical preservation and retrieval. The Registry Section in particular, houses the personal files of all current and former employees of the Casinos and Gaming House Operators. This section also generates the annual re-licensing list. The re-licensing process is a recertification process whereby a casino or gaming house employee who has received approval from the Gaming Board to work is re-certified to work for another year, up to three (3) years, and this process requires the collaborative effort of the Registry and Licensing Department. Data Entry on the other hand, is responsible for the archiving of all relevant information within the Gaming Board via a document imaging system. The Registry & Data Entry Department, in short, is the principle repository for data maintained on all gaming applicants and licenses within our jurisdiction. Casino Operation Casino Operation is the law enforcement arm of the Gaming Board. This division is responsible for the regulation and monitoring of all Casinos throughout the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It provides physical presence and remote monitoring of the Casinos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Gaming House Operations Gaming House Operation is the law enforcement arm of the Gaming Board. This division is responsible for the regulation and monitoring of all Gaming House Operators throughout the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It provides physical presence and remote monitoring of the Gaming Houses during operational hours. Internal Operation The Internal Operations Department is organized in support of the Board’s organizational goals. As a key support element for service delivery in the Board, IOD provides technical support, project management support, systems analysis, consulting services, media design, building maintenance support and security.

Information Technology The Information Technology (IT) Department besides strategy provides the day-to-day support for the IT infrastructure, including the growing Board’s data network, telecommunications systems, data operations, and business continuity program management. The Network Unit within IT is charged with the design, architecture, support, maintenance of the Board’s comprehensive enterprise data network. This network is the backbone of critical Board’s data communications, and serves to interlink all functional departments and employees within the Board. Facilities Management The Facilities Management (FM) Unit comprises of Security, Support Services and Custodial. FM administers the coordination of operations and maintenance of space, building management, lease, occupancy, furniture, cleaning, security, emergency preparedness etc.

emancipation of Bahamians to the fullest extent of jobs in the Gaming Industry which prior to 1983 or thereabouts were just political conjecture. Have Bahamians in these posts done the industry proud? Secretary Tynes: The Government’s decision to expand to role of Bahamians in the Gaming Industry commencing in 1983 from not just being custodial, cashiers or security guards to becoming croupiers/dealers on table games has made a positive impact on the industry. It only shows that Bahamians are capable of holding meaningful position in the industry. To date, Bahamians have risen to supervisor, management and at the executive levels within Casinos. Additionally, Bahamians are being offered positions in other jurisdictions because of their experiences gained in the Bahamas. Question: If Horse Racing or Dog racing was licensed in the Bahamas

Special Investigation Unit (SIU) The Special Investigation Unit within the Board charged with enforcement of the provisions prohibiting the conduct of gaming activity within The Bahamas without benefit of the appropriate license or outside licensed premises as those terms are defined in Section 2 of the Amended Act. Northern Services The Northern Services comprises of Grand Bahama and Bimini. The Officer in Charge of Grand Bahama will manage the affairs for both operations. Question: You witnessed the

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would you want these to be regulated by the Gaming Board? Secretary Tynes: If Horse and Dog racing becomes licensed in this jurisdiction. I am of the opinion that the Gaming Board is the only regulatory body that can successfully regulate this form of gaming. In order to be successful with implementing a successful tax regime, the Gaming Board has the skill. Question: There are any numbers of table electronic gaming apparatus at various restaurants and nightclubs which are not licensed to operate as such. Do you envision a crackdown on this or would you be recommending to Government the licensing of such for Bahamians and how would the Board collect its revenue? Secretary Tynes: Under Section 66 of the Gaming Act 2014, it is illegal for persons/companies to possess gaming equipment who do not hold a Casino Operators License. In April 2020, the Gaming Board

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for the Bahamas has formed the Special Investigative Unit which comprises of Intelligence Officers, Information Technology Officer and Enforcement Officer. In 2020 and 2021 this unit has successfully had illegal gamblers and operators convicted before the Magistrate court with fines up to seven thousand dollars ($7,000.00). The Board continues to seek out illegal operators with a view of seeking justice. These underground illegal operations only erode the profitability of the domestic gaming sector. There is no recourse for the Bahamian gaming public as it relates to games being conducted as prescribed in the Gaming Regulation 2014. Additionally, there is no consumer protection for customer complaints as there are no rules governing rules of play. This is a policy decision for the Government. Question: Under the current policy and law what are the availability of Casino licenses in the

country today and where would these be located? Secretary Tynes: These are :• Paradise Entertainment Leisure – Atlantis Paradise Island Casino, Paradise Island Bahamas • Sky Warrior Bahamas Limited – Baha Mar Casino, New Providence • Resort World Bimini Bay Casino, Bimini Bay Casino, North Bimini, Bahamas • Sandal Emerald Bay, Exuma (Not Utilizing Casino License) • Albany Resort (Purchased South Ocean Property in South Western New Providence – Head of Agreement signed). • Ginn Sur Mer, West Grand Bahama – Project Pending Approval • Tyrsoz Family Holding Limited, Abaco – Heads of Agreement Signed Question: Would a national lottery fall within the jurisdiction of the Gaming Board and is the country capable to managing such an undertaking by the state?

Secretary Tynes: Regulating lotteries would fall under the preview of the Gaming Board for the Bahamas. The country is very capable of managing the task. Since 1996 to 2014 the Gaming Board for the Bahamas has been assigned key personnel to study successful lotteries in the United States (Florida and Georgia) and the Caribbean (Jamaica, Barbados and Purto Rico). Lotteries are usually set up to fund education, sports, social services and health care. Question : What makes the Gaming experience in the Bahamas so alluring and pleasing and mutually beneficial to all stake holders? Secretary Tynes: The Bahamas is in close proximity to the United States. It is an English speaking country. The tourism product is of world class standard and has a reputation of being well regulated. Question: Finally walk us through the state of digitalization and the modern computerization of the Gaming Board to keep pace now an in advance and anticipation of even more changes? Secretary Tynes: Pursuant to The Bahamas Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing National Risk Assessment that was conducted by the World Bank in 2015 and 2016 and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force Mutual Evaluation Report, published in July 2017, a number of risk factors that have the potential of exposing the gaming industry to money laundering and terrorist financing threats were identified. Consequently, based on a mandate issued from the Government of the Bahamas; and the urgent need to address the possible adverse assessment by the Financial Action Task Force, the Board embarked on a process to establish counter-measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing threats through the implementation of a Compliance Monitoring System (CMS) along with an Anti-Money Laundering Framework. The said Compliance Monitoring System will facilitate the Board’s ability to monitor its licensees thereby, ensuring that all licensees adhere

to the legislative framework. The Board’s Information Technology (IT) Departments in conjunction with its Technical Consultants is nearing the completion of the initial assessment of each licensee’s database platform in order to capture the requirements that will be necessary to develop the interface for the Compliance Monitoring System. Implementation of Central Monitoring System:

• • •

Disaster Recovery (DR) Site 24X7X365 Support and Maintenance IPR Handover Value Add in Addition to RFP Scope – Problematic Patron Identifier & Responsible Gaming

Further, it is envisioned that the CMS will be integrated with both a Responsible Gaming and an Anti-Money Laundering Solutions, which

On August 28th, 2018 the Board issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a Central Monitoring System (CMS). The purpose of the RFP is to implement an Automated Accounting Reporting System in conjunction with the Compliance Monitoring System Platform that must allow for the following: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Real-time Revenue Monitoring Tax Calculation Device Management & Track Player Journey Enable/Disable Machines Compatible with GSA Standards Register all Assets Revenue Journal Entry System Real-time Reporting & Analytic Reports – (Compliance, Revenue, Finance/Accounts & Miscellaneous) License Management Activities Approval Workflows Signature Verification of Assets Mobile & Tablet Interface Return to Player Percentage Dispute/Case Management 24X7X365 Video Surveillance of all Gaming Board Offices in the Bahamas Real-time Video Surveillance and Geographic Monitoring of Gaming Houses Monitoring and Identifying Problem Gamblers by Analysing gambling Pattern or Trends Hardware for EGDs Hardware at Casinos for Real-Time Data Hardware for Primary Site and

would complete the Board’s mandate in monitoring the gaming industry in this jurisdiction. The project is in the final stages of completion. The project was delayed in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID 19. Question : And now for you overview on 103 plus years of Gaming in the Bahamas. Secretary Tynes: The Gaming Board for the Bahamas has become one the most respected regulating body in the world by implementing some of the most effective regulations from inception Lotteries and Gaming Act 1969 which was tooled to combat organised crime from participat-

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ing in owning casinos in this jurisdiction. The Lotteries and Gaming Act focused on systems of internal controls which produces a great level of accountability. Throughout the years, jurisdiction such as New Jersey visited the Bahamas with a view of mirroring the Lotteries and Gaming Act. In recent years it became apparent that the Lotteries and Gaming Act, 1969 and the Regulations promulgated thereunder, were out of step, most notable from a gaming technology perspective, with international regulatory best practices, including decisions to treat casinos as financial institutions for financial transaction reporting purposes. Domestic and international fears that Bahamian Casinos were conduit for money laundering brought increased scrutiny to the Government and increased reluctance on the part of banks to offer banking services to entities event potential associated with gaming or, in the case of international banks, to continue correspondent relationships with Bahamian banks doing business with entities affiliated with the casino industry and/ or the increasing obvious, albeit unregulated, gaming houses (web shops). It is, at least in part, out of this maelstrom that the Gaming Act, 2014 (Act) was adopted on 24th November, 2014. Viewed in the context of its legislative history the Act, together with the Gaming Regulations 2014, Gaming House Operator Regulations 2014, and Gaming Rules 2015 which amplify its term (collectively “New Legislation”), is at once the product of external pressures on the Government to implement countermeasures against money laundering and terrorist financing and the product of internal pressure on the Government bay an established casino industry and an increasingly powerful :grey” domestic gaming sector. Drafted in consultation with South African based AG Consultants, a highly reputable gaming consulting firm comprised of former regulators, by it terms and overall approach, the New Legislation represents a total embrace of the most current international regulatory best practices.

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The new Legislation affects three main results: 1. It incorporates a full range of new regulatory requirements related to eligibility for licensing, an Operator’s system of accounting and internal controls, responsible gaming, know your customer/ source of funds/ anti-money laundering countermeasures and independent certification of gaming technology – all comparable to requirements imposed in most robust North American gaming jurisdictions and all capable of signaling to international observers and banking institution that the Government has the will to, and more importantly the ability to, impose licensing and operational requirements in its gaming sectors that are consistent with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and protocols. 2. It recognizes the increased technological sophistication of today’s commercial casinos and the changing demands of younger, international players, by




materially expanding the permissible offering of commercial casino to include the very latest technologies in automated table games, server based and server support slot machines and progressive and proxy, mobile and internet wagering. Perhaps most notably, it materially expands legalized gaming in the Bahamas by providing for detailed transition mechanism pursuant to which the Bahamas is now recognized by many international observers to be succeeding at what many thought was impossible – the regularization of a heretofore unregulated, internet based domestic gaming sector. Today, by and through the Act, the Bahamas authorizes and the Gaming Board for the Bahamas regulates, two distinct gaming sectors, a tourist based commercial casino sector and a domestic sector offering a hybrid form of Internet gaming pursuant to which domestic players may engage in an account based, direct on-line experience or game interactively in an account based, brick and mortar (Gaming House Premise). Gaming Licenses and Gaming House Operator Licensees offer both international and domestic players a full range of casino, lottery and sports wagering options that are subject to nearly identical regulatory requirements. Operators and Suppliers in both sectors are subject to probity investigations that meaningfully establish their eligibility from a good character, honest, integrity and financial stability perspective to participate in this highly regulated industry. Likewise, all controls programs components of the games operated in either sector are required to be tested and certified for fairness, accuracy and audit-ability by world renowned independent testing laboratories against technical standards that are among the most robust in the world. The Bahamas has much to be proud of as the World was watching anticipating that regulating the domestic gaming (Interactive Gaming) was impossible.

T he Bahamian Club


The Bahamian Club in the roaring 1920s The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Casino Gambling in the Bahamas in 1967 captures the ethos of The Bahamian Club, which was situated on West Bay Street, and the property is just a stone’s throw away …opposite Arawak Cay or the Down Home Fish Fry. The Commission states The Bahamian Club began its operations in the early 1920s. The Bahamian Club was quite exclusive, as it was illegal; and by 1939 the Governor in Council made recognition of the fact that the laws of the Bahama Islands criminalized any form of gambling. The Bahamian Club only opened its door during the peak three month winter tourist season, when Nassau was home to hundreds of well-heeled snow birds. The Tourism Industry was beginning to find its fertile setting and eventually the Legislative Council would amend the laws to allow for a special Exemption Certificate to allow Casino Gambling. Bahamians were not allowed to gamble in The Bahamian Club and had menial jobs on the outside of the property. Foreigners were flown in to serve guests on the Casino tables and its other environs. By 1966 the Wallace Groves business empire in Freeport Grand Bahama was looking at ownership of the Bahamian Club and its casino exemption license. That license would eventually be the foundation of the Casino operations at Resorts International on Paradise Island. A wonderful history of Olde Nassau and the excitement of the roaring 20s. The first kid on the casino gambling block was The Cat Cay Club where Louis Wassey the developer hosted hundreds of tourists who could play in the Casino, which until the advent of the Exemption Certificate in 1939, was quite illegal.

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Horse racing came early to the Bahamas, incredibly early in fact, when a rudimentary track was built near Fort Charlotte in 1792 by the occupying colonists. A “proper” track was constructed later opposite Cable Beach where the Baha Mar resort now stands and was popular from the 1930’s onwards until a major fire destroyed most of the facilities in February 1958. By 1960 a new grandstand and parade ring were built and state of the art starting gates and photo finish cameras were installed. It became the haunt of the rich colonial elite who mingled with the famous such as the likes of Erol Flynn and they enjoyed charcoal grilled lobster, turtle pie and steaks on the dining terrace while watching top jockeys and horses some from Miami. It had such a colourful social scene that the press eagerly wrote society columns publishing photographs of the celebrities and the fashions and hats worn by the ladies.


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LIVE TOP CLASS THOROUGHBRED HORSE RACING MAY RETURN TO THE BAHAMAS WITH BIG INT’L COMPANIES SPONSORING MEGA PURSE HANDICAPPING One of the considerations and interests high on the Gaming Board for The Bahamas’ agenda is to attract a major international/local investment in a world class Thoroughbred Horse Racing Track, in the capitol Nassau, with a build out of pasture land, stables and training tracks on the neighbouring Island of Andros. “With our tourists numbers climbing every day and our proximity to the racing Mecca of the United States and the deep cultural ties Bahamians have to horse racing, we would be seeking affiliation with established and recognized racing regulatory agencies. The Bahamas, through electronic gaming and competitive handicapping, would extend invitations to large international companies to sponsor mega purse races; this is exciting for us to explore and lay the groundwork,” says Dr. Daniel Johnson, Executive Chairman of the Gaming Board. Nassau’s fabled Hobby Horse Race Track operated over a season from 1st January to Easter Monday yearly for over 35 years before it closed its doors in 1978. Hundreds of persons employed in the local

horse enterprise lost their livelihoods. In the aftermath of the 1977 Arab Oil Embargo, the Bahamian Government, at the closure, said it could not justify budgetary costs to repair the facility while there were much major social concerns and unrest. The recession which accompanied the Oil crisis brought the Bahamian tourism industry to its knees. The race track closure drew international attention to the abandonment of hundreds of Bahamian bred race horses with US animal adoption agencies transporting animals to the USA. Scores of Bahamians employed in the horse business also left the country to pursue careers on race tracks in the USA. Trainers such as Larry Demeritte and George Burrows are still so engaged in Kentucky and Ocala Florida respectively. Champion Bahamian jockey Gary Bain rode at Calder Race Track in Miami, Florida for many years before retiring. The Bahamas race horse stock at that time came from locally bred quarter and thoroughbred horses in the early 1940’s. This was eventually discouraged with local owners importing pure thoroughbreds into the racing assembly. Horses like Sun Dance Jewel, imported from South Florida as a yearling and raced as a champion three year old in Nassau returned to South Florida at the closure of Hobby Horse Hall; where he won major sprint stake races in the late 1970’s. The Bahamian bred race horse is just about extinguished but for a number of horses in the wild on the Island of Eleuthera, where a local horse owner moved

his animals during the closure. A new race track in Nassau will require the importation of race horses and new rules as to what determines a Bahamian bred horse. Under the former racetrack legislation; the Racing Commission of The Bahamas had oversight for the parimutuel. The Gaming Board, in seeking to entice (facilitate) this major race track investment, says it would seek an amendment to the legislation to bring management of the horse racing business to their purview. A horse track and entertainment centre in Nassau; with pastures and paddocks and training tracks on Andros will employ on an annual basis over 2,000 Bahamians. Another 500 Bahamians will be added to this list during the scheduled racing season. Because of the tropical weather, horse racing was not allowed in the summer months. Spin off enterprises for Veterterians, feed and medical supplies, and tack would give an added boost to the economy. Surrounding communities would also benefit from the new economy. “We don’t have the land available on Nassau to build the track and entertainment centre. Andros, which is fifteen minutes away by airlift and one hour by boat, and is the fourth largest island in the English Caribbean, will easily secure horse land and the horse whisperers. The competitive nature of Bahamians will energize local horse ownership,” Dr. Johnson said.

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Examining the 1967 Commission of Inquiry into Casino Gambling Report The Bahamas did not click it’s fingers, earn three wishes from a genie in a bottle nor engage the magic of the Chicharney to arrive in the 21st century with a Casino and Gaming Industry which earns the accolades of its competitors for its transparency and quick adaption to the continuing upgrades and transformations brought by the digital age in this industry. It is safe to assume that the Industry in this Island Nation; quite naturally was feared and highly suspect in its introduction just before World War 11 and its meteoric rise in the decade of the 60s to where it sits today.


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The Bahamas is home today to the largest casino in the Caribbean region, as it relates to one spectacular property –

BAHAMAR; and the marine attractions and Casino at ATLANTIS on Paradise Island in the Bahamas also makes the destination synonymous with the world’s most competitive resorts in Orlando and Las Vegas in the USA. A decision was made in 2016 to regularize and legalize gaming houses for exclusive play by Bahamians and these are fully owned by Bahamians and provide a new exciting stream of employment and energized platforms for Bahamians to engage. The Gambling Industry is largely directly responsible for the bed rock of a determined and growing Middle Class sector for Bahamians and the Tourism industry and Casino Gambling, although seemingly intertwined run on their own powerful economic peripherals. But The Bahamas got here because the fear of what the colony, once referred to as a “tiny Fishing Village”, was about to cavort caused a Royal Commission of Inquiry, led outstanding jurists from the United Kingdom in 1967, who forensically took apart what was being offered The Bahamas at the time and laid a ground work for Bahamians to reference. This fear, of course was to some extent fueled by the sensationalism of the media of the 20th century which

Lynden Oscar Pindling is pictured in the foreground with British Governor Sir Ralph Gray and members of his first cabinet in the background. From left are: Cecil Wallace Whitfield, Milo Butler, Arthur Hanna, Clarence A. Bain, Jeffrey M. Thompson, Carlton Francis, Randol Fawkes, Warren Levarity, Dr. Curtis McMillan and Clement Maynard.

took Casino Gambling on a roller coaster ride of diverse experiences and divergent players and characters. And the religious leaders of the time saw in gambling a predicate which today still subjectively toys with euphemisms like “sin taxes”. Let us examine how the Commission Report shaped the conversation, calmed a Colony and anchored the birth of this Nation and its economic pillars. The year is 1967. Its three months after the historic general election of 10th January, which has replaced Minority Rule and discarded a near 200 year class and racist protocol. A new Bahamian Government, democratically elected and led by Black Premier Lynden Pindling must await the report of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Casino Gambling; investigating all Gambling antecedents, in a society where Judeo-Christian norms; across all spheres, has a people in a frenzied dilemma over faith, progress and a modern Bahamas. Dr. Daniel Johnson, the Executive Chairman of the Gaming Board for the Bahamas says looking back to this era,” we see the dawn of our liberation theology, pathology, physiology, psychology, sociology. It is exploratory at this early juncture; we are still building on it. We still are determining access. However, we have a platform that is structur-

ally strong and as a people we must determine the applications or apps we want interwoven into this and at what time these come on stream.” Dr. Johnson is a former Member of Parliament and served as a Cabinet Minister in the Perry G. Christie Progressive Liberal Party Government from 2012 to 2017. He is credited with the build out of “Sports in Paradise” which made the Bahamas an exciting venue for international athletic and sporting events. He hails from a line of Bahamian public figures. Dr. Johnson filled the shoes of his first cousin Neville Wisdom who also served as Minister of Youth Sports and Culture. His uncle Anthony Roberts served in the 1968 Majority Rule Cabinet of Lynden Pindling and Dr. Johnson’s father Oscar N. Johnson Senior was a charismatic and visionary Member of Parliament for Cat Island. Italia Johnson became the first Woman Speaker of the House of Assembly in 1992, Dr. Johnson’s sister and other siblings – Ellsworth Johnson has served as Cabinet Minister in the Free National Movement Administration of 2017 to 2021, and Dr. Johnson’s sister Gladys has served in the Senate. His mother was Matron of a hostel for orphaned and disadvantaged children. A primary school in Nassau is named for his grandfather. “The 1967 Royal Commission of In-

quiry and its final report made such recommendations on Gaming and I should say Casino Gambling which would have turned the then Colony of the Bahama Islands on its head. “The Bahamas Christian Council, the Roman Catholic Church, various wings of an emerging civil society were tossing and turning over this great dilemma over Casinos. It is very difficult for an outsider to imagine how a Bahamas which benefited and thrived on rum smuggling into the United States during their period of Prohibition is now so all worked up over legalized Casino Gaming,” Dr. Johnson says in reflecting on this by gone era. “The Commission’s report did several fundamental assertions which changed our course. In the Bahamas of that day in 1967 to have these distinguished European or Englishmen, well learned; to come and sit here and talk with our people and turn over every stone to get to the bottom of a story; the Bahamian people had an informed world view presented to them. The Commission saw the need for the establishment of a Gaming Board such as what we have today. The Commission showed how through regulations and tough scrutiny undesirables could be kept out. The Commission showed how the Colony could earn a sizeable return from the Gaming Industry and the Commission saw Casino Gambling as a twin pillar of

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our Touristic resort development,” Dr. Johnson says. “The new Government took fretful first steps on some recommendations. Some 40 plus years after 10th January 1967 and the Royal Commission of Inquiry Report, a new PLP administration ventured even farther with the legalization and regularization of local gaming houses in 2016 and an fuller commitment to the work and duty and relevance of the Gaming Board and the proper co-operations with our Casinos to keep our industry at the highest level of attraction, modernization and excitement,” Dr. Johnson says. HERE IS A SYNOPSIS OF WHAT THE GAMING COMMISSION OF 1967 PUT INTO THEIR REPORT:1. COMMISSION APPOINTMENT The Royal Commission of Inquiry was formally appointed on 4th March 1967. Sir Ranulph Bacon Knight, President, and Commissioners, Robin Ernest Auld, Esq Ph.D. LL.B. assisted by John Edward O’Connell – Detective Superintendent (UK Scotland Yard) Vernon Turley (Forensic Accountant from Canada),David Junor Young- Secretary to the Commission. Sir W. Gordon Bryce QC Attorney General was Chief Counsel to the Commission and assisted by John Henry Bostwick LL. B, Consul. The Commission’s chartered terms of reference :“Whereas we have deemed it expedient for divers good causes and considerations that a diligent and full Inquiry should be forthwith be made into the manner in which the business of the Casinos operating in Freeport by the Bahamas Amusements Limited and in Nassau by Paradise Enterprises Limited has been and is being conducted under the Certificate of Exemption under Section 257 subsection 10 of the Penal Code Chapter 48 with special reference to: a. The suitability of persons employed in or connection with


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that business and the connections if any such persons with undesirables associates within the colony and elsewhere; b. Whether legislation regarding Casino gambling in the colony and the administration thereof are adequate and in particular whether there is reason to believe that persons within the colony or elsewhere have been or would be likely to be able to obtain improper benefit from the profits of Casino Gambling; c. Whether any former or present Member of the Government or of the Legislature at any time since 1962 received or agreed to receive any direct pecuniary benefit from the operation of Casinos in the country or the introduction of maintenance thereof; d. The accounts of the companies and the methods of calculating and distributing and the receipts of those profits; e. Any payments not disclosed in the accounts made by the companies on either of them or any person employed by them or either of them to any other company or persons. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE HERE THE OPPOSITION TO CASINO GAMBLING FROM THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY (a) The evangelical lobby against Casino Gambling was large in scope and dramatic. The Commission drew references to letters from the leaders of these communities and the Appeals that were made to Premier Sir Roland Symonette not to accede to any application for the extension of Casinos, namely the casino for Paradise Island. BAHAMAS CHRISTIAN COUNCIL LETTER TO PREMIER SIR ROLAND SYMONETTE Dated the 8th day of June 1965 “Dear Sir Roland, “This Petition is sent to you on behalf of the Bahamas Christian Council which represents the majority of Bahamian Christians. “It has been brought to our notice that there is an imminent danger

of gambling interests being granted licenses to operate a casino on Paradise Island. Eleven years ago the protests of the Christian Churches were effective in preventing the spread of organized gambling but the recent license granted at Freeport Grand Bahama was quickly done without regard for public opinion and the national wellbeing. The Colony was presented with a “fait accompli”, we therefore earnestly and respectfully request that Cabinet through you to refuse the granting of any new gambling licenses or the transfer of any existing license from operations or organized gambling. Apart from our own religious objections on the grounds that gambling panders to the weakness of many people, is based predominantly on greed and constantly causes the transgression of the Tenth Commandment – “THOU SHALT NOT COVET”, we beg you to consider seriously that the establishment of a casino on Paradise Island would:a. Keep away a large number of decent tourists b. Bring in, as casinos elsewhere, undesirable immigrants from the foreign underworld, croupiers, pimps, prostitutes, narcotic peddlers etc.; c. Create innumerable problems for the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Royal Bahamas Police Force; d. Bring in easy money but demoralize our people- a long term irretrievable loss; e. Cause widespread uneasiness among the Bahamian people and especially among those who have confidence in your Government; f. Be contrary to the traditions and moral standards of the Bahamian people. “May the Blessings of Almighty God rest upon your deliberations. “Philip Blackburn “Chairman”. The following day the Roman Catholic Diocese wrote the Premier:BISHOP PAUL LEONARD HAGARTY’S LETTER DATED 9TH

June 1965 “Honorable and Dear Sir Roland, “I feel sure that I am not only speaking for the Catholics of the Bahamas as well as for myself when I state that it would do great harm to the Bahamas and its people. Despite the protective laws that might be enforced to make this gambling lawful only for our tourists, I think you and everyone who has a love for these beautiful Islands and their wonderful people will agree that to the extend gambling facilities here would do untold harm to the heart and soul of our people and to tourism itself. I would beg you to use your good offices to prevent such a tragedy from visiting this land “Bishop Hagarty”. THE SITUATION AND CLIMATE IN THE PENAL CODE AND STATUTES THE COMMISSION MET IN PLACE AT THE START OF THEIR INQUIRY 1. In 1939 the law changed to allow Governor in Council to exempt certain persons from the general prohibition contained in the Penal Code, Change not out of growing public demand from introducing casino gambling neither in Bahamas Islands nor as a result of change in Government policy. It was prompted by the recent opening of Mr. Louis Wasey of a small casino on a seasonal basis at Cat Cay and the realization by Government that this was quite illegal. Operating from 1920. This venture and the casino on the western outskirts of Nassau were quite illegal. The Bahamian Club exclusive establishment. Three months every year at the peak of tourist season very restricted clientele. 2. Section 757 added a sub section to allow the Governor in Council to grant Certificates of Exemption, 3. New Constitution came into effect on 7th January 1964. Cabinet Government Premier and no less than eight (8) Cabinet Ministers. 4. The immediate effect of “the licensing procedure” for casino

interest in 1939 was to regularize casinos at the Bahamian Club and at Cat Cay. War time cessation of Casino Gambling from1941 to 1946. 5. Applications were granted on a yearly basis but in 1960 an application was made for an even longer period for the Cat Cay Casino and it was rejected. RESTRICTED PERSONS 1. Minors 2. Persons born in the Colony and ordinarily resident there since 1964 3. The wives of husbands of persons engaged in any business or profession or employed for gain in the colony 4. Persons employed by the Government of the Colony. NO PROVISION IN LAW FOR GOVERNMENT TO EARN ONE RED CENT FROM CASINO INDUSTRY AT THIS TIME There were no provisions in the legalization for the taxation of the casinos or way for government to earn revenue. By 1964 the Government has resolved to draw some revenue from the casinos. The Monte Carlo Casino and the Casino at the Lucayan Beach Hotel in Freeport. The casino at Bahamian Club in Nassau and Cat Cay Club. The Casino tax was fixed at a flat rate 100,000 pounds sterling or US equivalent of – $286,000 annually. NEW CASINO TAX ACT Comes into effect on 28th January 1967 It was Illegal to import Casino Slot machines and these Machines were brought into the colony and in pieces and re-assembled here to get around this curve. THE IMPACT OF FREEPORT ON THE TOURISM AND CASINO INDUSTRY IN THE BAHAMAS FREEPORT The Commission gave detailed history on the economic development of Freeport.

The Island of Grand Bahama is described as being wholly unattractive despite its many beaches and it did not configure into the colonial Government’s scope of a tourist destination as it was geographically described as “flat land” and settlements and people were separated by distances. Wallace Groves, the American pioneer of what became Freeport hid his investment behind his British wife Georgette for tax purposes. The Colonial Government entertained Mr. Groves idea for a light manufacturing and lumber industry on the Island. The Groves were following behind the Norwegian Investor Alex Wenner Gren who had failed in a major canning factory on the Island in the 1940s. In the mid-1940s Billy Butlin arrived from the USA to build a hotel in the settlement of West End Grand Bahama, which were mere miles off the coast of the vibrant South Florida. The Groves business plan was tottering on failure. Stafford Sands, their attorney and confidante in the Government shared their idea that Freeport, this private city where there was no Customs taxes and central Government administration, rather its geographical zone was the responsibility of the Grand Bahama Port Authority; needed the allure and excitement of resort locales in Las Vegas, Europe and the excitement of pre-revolutionary Cuba. The Hawksbill Creek Agreement was signed on the 20th June 1955 and gave the City of Freeport this autonomy; a city within the Colony not governed by the central Government and with its own ability to levy fees for licenses, a supernumerary Police Force and powers to detail, curtail and restrain Bahamians living and working in Grand Bahama from entering within the City of Freeport for any business howsoever the Port Authority determined. The Agreement solidified the creation of this Tourism mecca and the powerful incentive to build this future was in

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the business of Casino Gambling. This is how the Monte Carlo Casino and El Casino in Freeport were the first lawful Casinos of scope and magnitude in the Colony. Freeport attracted the Hollywood elite and the playboy multi-millionaires of the USA, UK and Europe. Howard Hughes the reclusive in the Penthouse of a Freeport hotel property. Big name entertainers like Count Bassie and Sports stars re-located to Freeport. The Groves holdings would also form and own the Paradise Land Company, which owned properties on Paradise Island, to be joined to Nassau by a bridge and with the ownership of the Bahamian Club Casino in Nassau also in their pockets, the Groves were now eyeing major hotel development on Paradise Island and a new Casino license. The Groves would eventually sell out their entire interest in the Paradise Island venture to the Mary Carter Paint Company and the eventual developers of the Paradise Island Resorts and Casino- Jack Crosby and I. G. “Jack” Davis. The reality of the history is Freeport was the anchor for this vision which has anchored the Tourism and Gaming Industry in Nassau. This fact also debunks the myth that Resort/Vacation style Tourism drives Casino Gaming when the history shows it was the Casino Gambling ensemble which was considered to be the hidden nugget to put the Magic into the Magic City. The Groves found an eager partner with the American Louis Chesler who arrived in Grand Bahama in 1961, eager to get the Casino business up and running. ORAGNIZED CRIME CONCERNS The Commission of Inquiry, as was part of its focus was concerned about the personalities the Casinos in Freeport brought to the colony. The Commission quoted liberally from President Kennedy’s Com-

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mission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice in which it was stated, “Gambling is the greatest source of revenue for organized crime.” Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution of 1959 would be another catalyst to drive the Bahamas Casino experience. With Fulgenico Bastista’s regime gone; the new Cuban Government kicked out the Organized Crime Organizations which had their heavy hand in the Casinos operations there and closed the Casinos. Famed Underworld Boss Meyer Lanksy and his soldiers were scouting around for new territory and the Bahamas was their calling card. Luckily for the Bahamas; the Casino operations in Freeport continued to be under watchful eyes and whilst the American Government did not publicly put out any alert or warning, the American Press kept Freeport under the microscope. The Mob would find the Bahamas was not the safe haven they thought it could be, to hide their influence. THE COMMISSION ISOLATED THESE INTERNATIONAL NEWSPAPER STORIES AND TACKED THEM INTO THEIR REPORT:“In the last quarter of 1966 and in the early part of 1967 there were suggestions in the American Press that gangsters had their hands in the till at the Monte Carlo Casino in Freeport. In the first instance these scarcely veiled accusations did not appear in one of the publications which panders to the publics taste for sensationalism but in no less a newspaper than the Wall Street Journal. These were two long reports in October which were sufficiently detailed to give the impression that the writers were in possession of facts. The first of these reports were commented upon by The Economist in Great Britain. On 15th October and in the following February there were profusely illustrated articles in LIFE magazine and the Saturday Evening Post.”

Elections were held on the 27th November 1962, first election contested by political parties and the United Bahamian Party, with its sophisticated gerrymandering won the Government with the majority of seats in the House of Assembly, but lost the popular vote by more than 30 per cent. The Handwriting was on the wall. TOTAL SECRECY TO THE CASINO DEALS IN FREEPORT “I am also to say that it is the will of the Governor in Council that publicity of this matter be avoided until such time as all negotiations are completed”. 29th March 1963”. This was the core stalking penchant of the UBP attitude toward its decision to grant the Casino licenses.” The letter to the Grand Bahama Amusement Company, while certifying the grant, emphasized the Agreement was to remain secret. HOW THE AGREEMENT LAID OUT WHO WAS IN AND WHO WAS OUT:CLAUSE 7 of the contract with Amusements“Only person who shall have been born during in or during the last three years before their first employment n the colony by the Company and shall have resided in the UK or Great Britain Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland or a country in Western Europe” could be employed.” Americans, South Americans, Africans, Caribbean, Asians disallowed Special exceptions for Americans with certain Casino Gambling skills such as supervisors of principal games such as Roulette, Black Jack, Mechanical Slot machines, Dice were allowed. Chesler brought in high roller Americans:Moris Schmerzler Frank Ritter alias Reid Max Courtney Charles Brudner alas Brad

These persons reportedly had special skills from casino and gambling experiences in other jurisdictions and knew which clients could and should be allowed credit and in what amounts. The down side was all of these experts had some connection to Organized Crime families and organizations which hovered around Casinos in the USA and Havana Cuba. The Casinos in Puerto Rico made it clear they would be treated harshly if they came there. MEGA SALARIES, PERKS AND BENEFITS FOR THESE FOREIGN PERSONS WORKING THE BAHAMAS CASINOS. (1966) In the first three years of employment Messers Ritter, Courtney and Bruder had each earned no less than $400,000 each in salaries and bonuses in addition to the $10k which was added to their salaries, free board/ lodging and “entertainment” and transportation on the island and air fares. This is what employment looked like in March 1967 1. MONTE CARLO FREEPORT US (American) Staffing 33 European Staffing 70 TOTAL STAFF – 103 2. EL CASINO FREEPORT US (American) Staffing 26 European Staffing 48 TOTAL STAFF – 74 3. BAHAMIAN CLUB NASSAU US (American) Staffing 15 European Staffing 40 TOTAL STAFF 55 CROUPIER SCHOOL With no possibility on the horizon for Bahamians, black or white, to be trained to work in the Industry, the Grand Bahama Amusement Company opened a Croupier training school in London to recruit and train staff for the Bahamas ventures.

The first School opens in February 1964 and ran by Mr. Cellini, who was working in Freeport and was deported by the Bahamian Government after an unfavorable report from the American law enforcement agencies. Cellini would be deported from the UK in 1967 and his brother Edward Cellini took over management of the school. THE EMERGENCE OF MARY CARTER PAINTS IN THE CASINO BUSINESS Mary Carter Paints made an application in 1964 to take over the school in London as it prepared for its operations on Paradise Island. CORPORATE SET UP Amusement Company Limited Incorporated 20th March 1963 Louis Chesler Mrs. Georgette Groves Paradise Enterprises Incorporated in 1965 and wholly owned by Mrs. Georgette Groves Operating the Bahamian Club in Nassau and later a new casino on Paradise Island to be opened on 31st December 1967. In March 1967 Amusement abandoned Paradise Island Casino and its shares in Paradise Realty Company Limited to Mary Carter Paints THE MOB Meyer Lansky Eddie Cellini “For these reasons the Commission recommends that no further citizen of former residents of the USA should be employed in the casinos and those now in such posts should have their employment terminated as soon as possible”. SKIMMING The Mob or Cosa Nostra had developed a scheme called “skimming” where organized crime took a huge chunk out Casino intake every night before any figures were entered in the official

ledger and Government officials were allowed to observe the process. The Commissioners in their Report were also concerned about the scarcity of limited trained manpower in Casino security personnel and made blatant appeals for the most proficient of such personnel in Europe and the UK to be recruited to the Bahamas. TINY SEEDS OF BAHAMIANIZATION GERMINATING IN THE COMMISSION’S OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 1. The training of Croupiers and Dealers from amongst supervisory posts will in due time be filled should be undertaken with Bahamians.” 2. “The Commission sees no reason why Bahamians should not be trained to a high standard of proficiency in controlling the Games played in the Casinos.” 3. “The Commission can find no compelling reason for the exclusion of adult Bahamians or other residents in the Bahamas from the opportunity to play in the Casinos and recommends that the current restrictions should be removed.” Dr. Johnson says the task of his generation today is to move quickly towards the realization that Bahamians are engaged in everything offered in the Bahamas. “It is the admonition that we just ‘GO ALL THE WAY’” he says. It has been an eventful journey and the Gaming Industry belongs to us. There should be no bar, no restriction, to fullest participation and involvement of all. The Visitor and the Bahamian in all avenues and opportunities,” Dr. Johnson says. “ The digital age and access has rewired the world and the Bahamian people will be major players on that field.”

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Sir Stafford Sands looms large over the history of the modern Bahamas.


n 2001, his image was placed on the Ten Dollar Bahamian currency note by the Free National Movement Government led by the Rt. Honorable Hubert. A. Ingraham.

The elevation to this honor and national recognition continues to be immersed in controversy. Mr. Ingraham offered that in his opinion Sir Stafford’s contribution to the development of the Bahamas and the Promotion Board which was the forerunner to the Ministry of Tourism sets him above the fray and leaves little parallel to his accomplishments. Sir Stafford is also credited with the decision of the former United Bahamian Party (UBP) Government with taking the Colony off of the British Pound sterling and creating the Bahamian dollar and placing it on par with the US dollar, which is also interchange-

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able in the Bahamas. The Royal Commission of Inquiry looking into Casino Gambling in the Bahamas in 1967 held a starkly contrasted view of Sir Stafford Sands and his conduct and dealings with the international business persons seeking to own Casinos in the Bahamas and the sinister way in which certain Members of the Legislature, the media and the Executive Council were awarded lucrative consultancy contracts from Casino operators; all within the period the discussion for such licenses and the approval were about to be put to a vote.

In this segment on “103 years of Gaming in the Bahamas” it is important and integral to the story that all of the facts be set out without unfair or fettered commentary. The truth of the matter is a Bahamian politician from the ruling oligarchy, in four years ending in 1966 earned for himself $1,800,000 in consultancy fees which at that period would be the value of Ten million dollars. The Royal Commission was unambiguous on how they viewed this behavior and their admonition has stood in good stead as public fig-

ures involved in Gaming have avoided the pitfalls and the urge to monetize themselves at the expense of public policy and the country on Gambling and Gaming issues. This is how the Commission of Inquiry of 1967 viewed and characterized Sir Stafford Sands :STAFFORD SANDS FEES “ Was even by Bahamian standards out of all proportion to the legal services which he had rendered”. “For five years ending 31st December 1966 Stafford Sands was paid $1,800.00 from the Freeport casino operators and the Port Authority. “The enormity of the fee demanded and the speed and manner with which payments were effected coupled with every circumstance of his handling of this Application leave us in no doubt that he was selling his services primarily as an influential member of the Executive Council and not as a lawyer. The acquiescence of his Client to the enormous financial demands which he made upon them was in our view solely because they were anxious to acquire and keep the benefit of his services in that governmental capacity. “The timing of the agreements with the Consultants, their common political affiliations, the secrecy, lack of any real use of any of the consultants to provide consultancy services. “The most telling consideration is this connection are the secrecy which each consultant maintained in respect of his agreement and the timing these men were constantly thrown together in the course of their public duties, at party (UBP) meetings, business and social occasions, yet apart from the case of Sir Stafford and Mr. R. H. Symonette, so far as Mr. F. W. Brown was concerned not one of them knew even of the existence of the others agreements, the formal execution of the consultancy agreements shortly after signing of Certificate of Exemption was in our view a rather clumsy attempt to make it appear that the Consultants had no prior knowledge of the consultancy offers. This converting an inducement into a reward while entertaining the hope that

even the reward would be kept secret from the unsuspecting public. In such circumstances these men could not have received there consultancy agreements in complete ignorance of the intention behind them.” “ His actions in not revealing to the Government and all of his colleagues in the Executive Council prior to the discussion of the Application of 27th March 1963 fell far below the standard expected of a man in his position in public affairs of the colony.” Sir Stafford also earned another $10,000 per month from the Casino operators which he said was for the UBP and its internal administration. Party Officials before the Commission could only comment that they were told Sir Stafford was in possession of “some funds for the party”. THE DEAL 10th January 1962, as the Commission set out in its report:Stafford Sands payments and three (3) Executive Council Members Stafford billed 200,000 pounds which was over 500,000 US dollars. Eugene Dupuch $10,000 Etienne Dupuch $25,000 C Trevor Kelly lucrative shipping (Betty K) contract earned over half a million Robert H. Symonette 10,000 Freddie Brown $10,000 The UBP got $10k per month which was deposited to Sir Stafford Sands accounts COMMISSION COMMENTS ON PREMIER PINDLING Mike McClaney was an American with ties to questionable characters in the Casino industry of Havana Cuba before the May 1959 Cuban revolution under Fidel Castro. With the Casinos closed and the Castro Government pursuing an ideological line in deference to the Soviet Union; McClaney and his associates washed up on the shores of the new Gambling industry of the Bahamas. McClaney, according to testimony before the Commission was introduced to Mr. Pindling, the fledgling leader of the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party by American media and public relations guru David Probinsky.

McClaney was pursuing a casino application course with Stafford Sands and the UBP and the general elections of January 10th 1967 were approaching. According to Pindling’s testimony and other evidence McClaney offered and made available, ground and air transportation during the national campaign to Pindling and the PLP. The PLP would form the government with the narrowest of majorities but with an overwhelming popular vote. Pindling became Premier and Majority Rule governance came to the Bahamas. Sir Stafford Sands went into voluntary exile from the Bahamas in Spain and never returned to the Colony where he was born and for more than 40 years was the indisputable strong man of the colony. On commenting on Pindling, the Commission said, “We feel that Mr. Pindling allowed Mr. McClaney to believe that there was “a deal” in store for him. In this respect Mr. Pindling was not wholly frank with the Commission. In our view however, he was solely actuated by the interests of his Party (PLP) and not by any matters of personal gain.” Mr. McCLaney rented 13 rooms on the 4th Floor of the Trade Winds Building Down Town Nassau Bay Street in mid-1967. He provided offices for Arthur Foulkes, editor of the Bahamian Times and the first PLP Government Minister of Tourism, Bazel Nichols, a ten year veteran of the PLP, James Shepherd, and the PLP Whip in the House of Assembly and the Member for the St. Michael’s Constituency. The Pindling relationship with McClaney ended abruptly in 1967 when the American was deported from the colony and put on the stop list. Thus seguing into a new chapter in the casino industry in the Bahamas with the departure of McClaney who represented the last hold over of the “investors” in this sector with questionable links and dubious credentials.

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1. 1901. At the dawn of the 20th century, 1901, the Colony of the Bahama Islands, a British Crown dependency, THE LOTTERIES PROHIBITION ACT of that year any and all Lotteries and Gaming are ILLEGAL and punishable by stuff fines and jail sentences. Interesting how the word” Prohibition” is used in the title of the Act. Prohibition seems to be the mind- set of this period as societies struggle with religious dogma vs policy.

2. 1905. Five years later in 1905 The Lotteries Prohibition Act 1901 was repealed and replaced with the LOTTERIES AND GAMING ACT 1905.

5. 1924, THE PENAL CODE was enacted in the Colony. This defined criminal acts and deeds and subsequent punishments if one was convicted of any offence under the Act. Chapter 48 of the Penal Code repealed the LOTTERIES AND GAMING ACT 1905. This Act would wait for another two years- 1st January 1927 when it came into force.

4. 1924. Louis Wasey, an American developer on Cat Cay , in the Berry Islands chain, opened “THE CAT CAY CLUB”. Again in its season Gaming and Gambling was enjoyed.

3. 1920. The American and European emerging high end tourist market was on the move by 1924. THE BAHAMIAN CLUB, opened in Nassau; its location on West Bay Street, almost adjacent to Western Esplanade. Here Gaming and Gambling was enjoyed for the three months of the snow bird tourist season. BAHAMIANS were not allowed to gamble here and Bahamians performed general menial tasks in cleaning and landscaping and cooking. The Casino jobs were held by qualified foreigners who were brought for the season. Whilst this operation is clearly illegal under the then existing Act, it is interesting to note how the Colonial Government and the Legislative Council looked the other way and the Royal Bahamas Police Force fell in line with that protocol.

9. 1962. The Colony of the Bahama Islands is going through a political transition. For more than 300 years, an Oligarchy of White Bahamian and foreign men control the government and the economy. The PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL PARTY becomes the first political party to be formed in the Islands. Its leaders are mostly mulatto and the party’s appeal is to the majority Black ( then referred to as Negro) base of the population. The Oligarchs follow suit and form the UNITED BAHAMIAN PARTY (UBP). 8. 1939-1963. Numerous applications for ‘Certificates of Exemption” to operate Gaming/ Gambling operations was received by the Government and ALL were rejected. 7. CERTIFICATES OF EXEMPTION. These certificates or for want of a modern term- licenses- were given to the Cat Cay Club – “until further notice”, with no renewal required. Mr. Wasey died in 1961 and up to 1967 it was renewed on an annual basis. The Bahamian Club also got its Certificate and it was subsequently renewed on an annual basis.

6. 1930. The Government or Legislative Council amended the law to allow the GOVERNOR-IN- COUNCIL to exempt whomsoever was selected from the general prohibition of Gaming and Gambling in the Colony as contained in the Penal Code of 1924.

10. The UBP is led by Sir Roland Theodore Symonette, a son of the settlement of The Current on the Island of Eleuthera, a mulatto. The true power of the UBP throne is controlled by Sir Stafford Sands, a white Bahamian with a brilliant and sharp intellect who harbors sentiments of racism. Sir Stafford is credited with creating the Companies Act which entrenched the economic power of the oligarchs and building the template for the modern Bahamian Tourism Industry. As Minister of Finance he has by this time taken the Bahamas off the British Pound sterling currency and replaced it with the Bahamian dollar which is put on par with the US dollar. 11. 1962- A new Constitution gives the Bahama Islands internal self-Government. This allows for Cabinet Government on the Westminster system. 12. 1962. General Elections are contested between the ruling PLP and the UBP. Whilst the PLP received more than 60 per cent of the popular vote, Gerrymandering and other conflicts give the UBP the Government with more than 70 per cent of the House of Assembly. This is also for the first General Election where WOMEN get the right to vote.

13. 1963- The UBP Government is about to advance Casino Gambling to the next level. A Certificate of Exemption is granted to Bahamas Amusements Limited to operate an unlimited number of Casinos on the Island of Grand Bahama, each in conjunction with a hotel of two hundred (200) or more rooms . The Exemption is for ten (10) years.

17. The development of Freeport and Paradise Island are major components in the modern Tourism plant of the Bahama Islands. Hundreds of Bahamians find jobs in these sectors but top executive posts and any job in the Casinos are off limits to Bahamians.

16. 1965 – The UBP gives “Certificate of Exemption” to Paradise Enterprises Limited to cover the operation of a Casino at the Bahamian Club premises until such time as the major multimillion dollar resort development by Resorts International and its key shareholder, Mary Carter Paints, opens its Paradise Island Resort on Hog Island, which is being joined by a bridge from the Island of Nassau,

15. The Port Authority has permission to deny entrance to the City by local Bahamians and has its own Supernumerary police force. Hundreds of expatriates are brought in to work top jobs in the emerging manufacturing and tourism sector. The Casinos and hotels are staffed mostly by citizens of the country of Malta, in the East Indian Ocean.

14. Under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement the City of Freeport is being developed on the Island of Grand Bahama. The UBP Government has ceded state duties and obligations to the Grand Bahama Port Authority. This will be the catalyst for economic and political and social upheaval and discourse into the 21st century.

19. January 10th 1967. The PLP led by Lynden Oscar Pindling as Premier wins the general election ending over 300 years of Minority Government in the Bahamas and the first Majority Rule Cabinet is sworn in by the Governor. The PLP wins by a popular landslide but its majority in the House of Assembly is augmented with two elected Members not on the PLP or UBP ticket.

18. 1966. International pressure from world news sources on serious allegations involved in the grant of these Certificates of Exemption prompt the British Royal Governor to call a Royal Commission of Inquiry. The UBP calls a general election.

20. The Commission of Inquiry has reported and a number of recommendations are made and from these come the introduction of THE LOTTERIES AND GAMING ACT.

21. 1968 . The PLP calls fresh General Elections and wins by a wider popular margin and now controls a comfortable majority of seats in the elected House of Assembly. 22. 1969. The Lotteries and Gaming Act 1969 is enacted. The new Act creates THE GAMING BOARD which comes into being on 1st August 1969. The Gaming Board is charged with the responsibility of licensing Casinos, supervising their operations and contracting reputable firms involved in Casino accounting and audit of cash flows and Casino accounts, as it carries out its duties.

23. 1977. The Arab Oil embargo as war flares in the Middle East sends the tourism economy of the Bahamas reeling. Major hotel operators pull out, abandon their properties and Bahamian staff. The Government creates the Hotel Corporation of the Bahamas as its acquires several of these hotel properties and the Corporation is charged with the management of such. 24. 1978. The Lotteries and Gaming Act 1969 is amended to allow the Hotel Corporation to own all casino licenses and a Casino Operator to be given a license to manage a Casino.

25. 1980. The Sonesta Beach Hotel renamed the Ambassador Beach Hotel, a Hotel Corp property has a casino on premises operated by the Playboy Magazine mogul Hugh Heffner under the moniker The Playboy Casino.

31. SUN CITY AND KERZNER INTERNATIONAL. The Resorts International Properties are acquired by the South African resort giant Sun International. ATLANTIS is born. The country’s tourism sector gets a billion dollar plus make over. The Casino at Atlantis opens to international headlines and headliners. The South African principal Sol Kerzner acquires the property for his KERZNER INTERNATIONAL brand. KERZNER INTERNATIONAL Brand is acquired by the Canadian company, Brookfield. All of these transition in the period of 1997 to 2015. The casino licenses remain with the properties.

33. 2006. Emerald Bay another major tourist resort on the Island of Exuma comes on stream and gets a Casino license. 32. 2002. The PLP returns to governance after a General Election with Perry G. Christie as Prime Minister. Mr. Christie had previously served as Chairman of the Gaming Board and Minister of Tourism in the Pindling PLP Cabinet.

35. 2012. Mr. Christie saddles up again for another five year stint as Prime Minister as the PLP defeats Mr. Ingraham and the FNM in general elections.

30. 1998. The Resorts International Properties on Paradise Island go through a change of ownership. From the American game show billionaire Merv Griffin to Donald Trump. 29. 1992. The Free National Movement, led by Hubert Alexander Ingraham wins the general election ending 25 years of PLP governance and the Prime Ministership of Sir Lynden Pindling. Mr. Ingraham served as a former Cabinet Minister in Mr. Pindling’s Government. The FNM is a coalition of persons who left the PLP after the 1968 general election and joined with the UBP to form the new political entity.

27. 1986. The tourism mecca of Lucaya in the City of Freeport gets a Casino license for the Lucayan Beach Hotel.

34. 2007. Mr. Ingraham defeats his former law partner Perry Christie in general elections and the FNM returns to power.

28. Ownership of Hotels with Casino licenses change over a various periods. Carnival Crystal Palace is taken over by the developer Phil Ruffin and the hotel itself takes on three different brand managers.

26. 1984. The license held by the Playboy Casino given to the Crystal Palace Casino on Cable Beach in Nassau. This new multi-million dollar resort property is built on the demolished property of the Emerald Beach Hotel, one of the major abandoned hotel operations in the recession of Oil energy crisis. Carnival Cruise Lines and its owner Mikey Arison; are its developer and owner. The British resort developer Tiny Rowland gets a Casino license for his Princess Hotel Casino at Bahamia in Freeport.

36. 2013. Resorts World Bimini Bay Casino on the Island comes on stream as a major tourist resort development and is granted a Casino license. 37. 2014. GAMING ACT & REGULATIONS are introduced, inclusive of Gaming House regulations. 38. Dr. Hubert A. Minnis leads the FNM to a landslide victory over Mr. Christie’s PLP at the polls. 39. 2017. After almost 10 years in development the $4 billion BAHA-MAR RESORT opens with a casino license and the largest floor space of any casino in the region. This resort is built over the demolished Crystal Palace Property.

40. 2019/2020. The Covid 19 pandemic leads to locks downs and a freeze on the Bahamian economy. International tourist markets are suspended and the Bahamas , just recovering from the billions of dollars of damage from the Hurricane Dorian catastrophe on the Islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama; is in another economic twist. 41. 2021. Dr. Hubert Minnis and the FNM is defeated in a snap general election. Philip Edward Brave Davis leads the PLP to a landslide victory. Mr. Davis had previously served as Deputy Prime Minister in the last PLP administration.

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Sir Sol Kerzner A Triumphant Odyssey

ATLANTIS, the undeniable regional game changer, re-invigorating The Bahamas’s top tier resort/casino status Sir Sol Kerzner personified Atlantis for the Bahamian people. Readers need the back story to fully appreciate the magnitude of the South African investment and the epic transformation it had on the Bahamas tourism and gaming industry.


hen Sir Sol passed away in March 2020; Bahamians paused to reflect on a life and a contribution to the country’s economy that may only find comparison in Sir Harry Oakes’s sojourn as mass employer and philanthropist during the period during and after the 2nd World War. An essay posted on Atlantis website reads; “In 2012 Kerzner International Holdings Limited successfully completed a comprehensive global restructuring resulting in substantially all of its Paradise Island Assets, including the Atlantis Resorts & Casino and the One & Only Ocean Club, being transferred to Brookfield Asset Management Inc. The resort welcomed our new owners Brookfield Asset Management Inc., a recognized global conglomerate, to The Bahamas. Brookfield has assets under management of approximately $150 billion and has an over 100-year history of owning and operating assets with a focus on real estate, infrastructure, renewable power, and private equity. Brookfield also specifically has over $83 billion of property assets and

decades of operating experience in real estate investments that span the globe.” On their website this is how Atlantis relates the epic history: “In May 1994, Sol Kerzner purchased a languishing Resorts International on Paradise Island from entertainer Merv Griffin and began one of the fastest major construction projects in the resort industry. In December 1994 a totally transformed 1,147room resort, inspired by an amazing legend opened on Paradise Island; Atlantis. With a 14-acre waterscape of swimming pools, waterfalls, a lazy river ride, and six exhibit lagoons including a clear underwater tunnel in a shark habitat. Atlantis began to redefine tourism in The Bahamas and beyond. “Two years later the expansion continued with the Grand Opening of Royal Towers and Phase II, an $800 million expansion, which included the spectacular Mayan Temple waterslide complex, 6 swimming areas, the world’s largest open-air

marine environment with 11 million gallons of water, and the Royal Marina, host to sleek mega yachts. Over 60 A-List celebrities, including Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, and various dignitaries descended upon The Bahamas for the party of the century, with a finale of fireworks showering both over and on the Royal Towers. “The 1,200-room, $650 million hotel and casino was filled with museum-quality art by renowned artists from Europe, Africa, the United States and The Bahamas, including the glass sculptures Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon by Dale Chihuly, each valued at $1 million each. Upon opening, the casino also offered a gaming industry first: a wall of windows – bringing light and the outdoors into a rejuvenated gaming environment. “In January 2001 the inaugural Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational golf tournament was launched and for over 10 years, raised millions of dollars for charities, including local causes.

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“The popular Marina Village opened in 2005, adding a new outdoor experience of shopping, dining, and entertainment for our guests. ‘The vision continued in 2007 with the grand opening of the luxurious Cove Atlantis and The Reef Atlantis, a high rise luxury condo. The $1 billion Phase III expansion also included Aquaventure, which, with its iconic Power Tower and high tech water slides and The Current rapid river ride, redefined water park fun. Dolphin Cay opened as a state of the art rescue, education, and interaction facility offering an intimate and one-of-a-kind Atlantis resort experience. It is one of the largest and most sophisticated marine habitats and animal rescue-rehabilitation facilities, unlike anything in the world. It is a place where swimming with dolphins was redefined creating memories of a lifetime. “In 2007 the Atlantis LIVE premiered with Joss Stone, followed by the popular Maroon 5 in October. Year after year Atlantis LIVE has featured Kelly Clarkson, Jonas Brothers, Cyndi Lauper, Miley Cyrus, Reba McEntire, Colbie Caillat, Alicia Keys, Bruno Mars, and Katy Perry; just to name a few. Atlantis hosted the 58th Annual Miss Universe pageant, which was televised around the globe. Flo Rida, Heidi Montag, David Guetta, and Kelly Rowland perform and Miss Venezuela, Stefanía Fernández, was crowned Miss Universe 2009.

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“In December 2010 the Battle at Atlantis made a splash on the pre-season college basketball scene, with a successful double-header trial run, Battle 4 Atlantis was born. Battle 4 Atlantis has expanded to an eight-team tournament, having moved to Thanksgiving Week, and has established itself as the premier pre-season men’s college basketball tournament. “Golf Channel’s Big Break Atlantis premiered in 2012, showcasing the stunningly beautiful Ocean Club Golf Course and a cast of 12 aspiring women’s golfers. That same year the Ocean Club Golf Course hosted the Michael Douglas and Friends Celebrity Golf Tournament, televised on the Golf Channel. Celebrity golfers included Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Sharon Stone, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mark Wahlberg, and Benjamin Bratt.” These lifted quotes are a fantastic and spectacular story of how Sir Sol engineered his Sun International Company out of South Africa to mega resort investments in the Bahamas and now in Dubai. It wasn’t all neon lights, marquees, red carpets and glitterati. Sir Sol officially entered the Bahamas equation in 1994; at a time of a major political transition. The political party, the Progressive Liberal Party PLP; which ushered in Majority Rule in 1967 and Independence in 1973; and re-elected to office in five consecutive free and fair general elections, 25 years as Government - was voted out office in 1992. Sir Lynden Pindling, the Father of Independence spent his early political career wrestling against the privileges of the minority oligarchy; which ran the colony

of the Bahama Islands for more than 300 years. They were its legislators, its regulators, its investors, its suppliers, its land barons and were fastidious in a status quo which seemed immoveable. In 1985 Pindling hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Nassau. It was that contentious era when the Iron Lady Britain’s Margaret Thatcher was stubborn in her opposition to sanctions on Apartheid South Africa; which the Caribbean and African former Colonies were determined to see imposed. Nelson Mandela was still in prison. Apartheid, like the infamous Dred Scott decision in the US Supreme Court, seemed invincible. The CHOGM leaders broke into a caucus to meet again in London to follow up on sanctions with Pindling as chairman. The daily radio news, nightly news cast and newspaper reports on the massacres in Soweto, the tenacity of Bishop Desmond Tutu, the spirit and flair and courage of Winnie Mandela, the sacrifice of Steven Biko, the martyr; was not lost on Bahamian society. So when Sir Sol’s investment was publicly announced by the new Bahamian Government led by Hubert Alexander Ingraham it became a political football. This was the South Africa of terrible and incredible cruelty.

With the Bahamas a signatory to the Gleneagles Agreement, which frowned on states doing business with South Africa; it was fairly easy for the Bahamian political activists to find a soap box. Of course much of this synergy was driven by the perceived absence of a new political personality; aspirants to become the new Lynden Pindling; and to draw a line in the sand. The political rhetoric of the 60s was fading; and most people saw it as regurgitations of the long won political battles and the conjecture of a by gone era. The newly minted Prime Minister Hubert Alexander Ingraham, a former national chairman of the Pindling Progressive Liberal Party had also served as a Cabinet Minister in the Pindling Government. He and his law partner Perry G. Christie were fired from the Cabinet in 1984 for their perceived challenge to Pindling and members of his inner circle over other hot button issues. And the rest they say is history. Mr. Ingraham has won a landslide majority in the popular vote and in the Parliament. He has crossover appeal with disgruntled PLPs eager for political change after 25 years and the demographics of his Free National Movement political party gave him extra change in the cash till to defeat

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the nay sayers to the Atlantis investment. In Parliament, Mr. Ingraham had to face down skilled former colleagues from the defeated Government who accused him of selling the country out and tagged the Atlantis investment as a mill stone because of its concessions in the Heads of Agreement. “Re-Negotiate! Re-negotiate!” was the echo of the opposition. And then it happened. Apartheid came crumbling down in South Africa. Nelson Mandela walked out of jail. And would visit the Bahamas and show support for Sir Sol and his investment. Even as Atlantis opened its doors and the world came to marvel at the grandeur, opulence and magnificence of its theme, “the lost world of Atlantis”, the opposition was still seething. In 1997, Mr. Ingraham returned to the polls in constitutionally mandated general elections; again defeating Pindling and the PLP. Pindling resigned as Leader of the PLP, a position he had held for 30 years. Within days in a Special Convention; Perry Christie was elected the new Leader of the party and subsequently sworn in as Leader of the Official Opposition.

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Mr. Christie, who had cut his teeth as a big corporate attorney began in earnest to change the rhetoric of the party. Here was a new PLP Leader who wanted to meet with Mr. Kerzner , establish good will and support the thousands of Bahamians employed there. Mr. Christie was in office as Prime Minister when Butch Kerner, Sir Sol’s son and the CEO at Atlantis died in a tragic helicopter crash in the Dominican Republic in October 2006. Mr. Christie’s Tourism Cabinet Minister Obie Wilchcombe accompanied Sir Sol on a special flight to the DR to claim his son’s body. And the nation mourned with the Atlantis

staff and the Kerzner family. When Resorts International arrived in the Bahamas in 1966 its principals I G Jack Davis and James Crosby were only names. Few of the hundreds of persons employed there ever met Crosby or Davis; much less knew what they looked like. When Donald Trump assumed ownership for a very short period; his media presence loomed large but Trump soon sold to Merv Griffin, a billionaire television celebrity. They were owners who did not engage with the Bahamian people and their employees in the way that Sir Sol Kerzner was about to introduce. Sol Kerzner endeared himself to his staff and his operation. He arrived with a team that adopted the Bahamas and the Bahamian people. The anger once so thick here over South Africa dissipated largely because of the Kerzner magnanimity. There was no pretense about him. No conceitedness. He knew the value of human capital and how it is so integral to any investment. He became a role model. He was admired for his brilliant mind and replenishing vision. He put his mark on the Bahamas and on Atlantis. He will live larger than legend, a giant of a man, the myth and a true friend of the Bahamian people, forever.

‘Lift Every Voice & Sing”

THE RAT PACK – Funky, Levant & Joe Lord

Photo : From left to right Levant Carey, Danny Johnson, Joseph Lord and Kendal Funky Demeritte.


he decade of the 1980s was an oyster for many ambitious young Bahamians. Unlimited professional opportunities in just about every sector. The energy crisis and recession of the late 1970s had re-positioned the Government’s focus on the Tourism and Gaming sectors. The Bahamas Hotel Corporation was created to own and manage hotel properties abandoned by their private investor foreign owners during the down turn in the world’s economy. These young Bahamians felt a rush of national pride in stepping forward to work in an industry in which the people had a major financial stake. As the world economy brightened and new foreign investors arrived to open the Playboy Casino and build the Carnival Crystal Palace Casino on Cable Beach and new resort properties opened on Paradise Island in the shadow of Resorts International’s signature properties, the country was gradually accepting what was required of the Bahamian people to put a national brand on their product. Levant Carey, Kendal “Funky” Demeritte, Joseph Lord; heeded that call. These three men, with their “gorgacity” personalities came to symbolize the grit, dedication and professionalism of the 80s. Levant Carey

recalls his teachers at St. Augustine’s College, Nassau thought it peculiar when he boasted of his ambition to work in the Gaming Industry. Even his father was numbed by Levant’s decision. Levant pressed on, obtaining a degree in the industry from the prestigious University in Nevada. On his return to Nassau, he found engaging employment at Resorts International and when Carnival’s Crystal Palace Casino in Cable Beach beckoned for him; he was ready. Levant is happy to tell the story of how his dad overcame the prejudice which had been pushed into his generation on Gaming, and was so proud of his son and his career choice and path. Joseph Lord was always clever and ambitious. He found his niche in the Gaming Board and worked his way through the ranks. He found time to pursue a law degree and has worked in just about every sphere of the Gaming Board’s reach. Kendal “Funky” Demeritte, dapper, loyal to a fault and with the natural ability to instantly make lifelong friends out of anyone he meets; earned his wings in the Security/Intelligence and Investigation arm of Casino Gaming. The politics of the 80s was also brutal. Loyalty could cause everything a person worked for over a life time to be surrendered on the altar of garrison politics. “Friends turned on friends for advancement and insecure po-

litical leaders thrived off gossip and unsubstantiated allegations.” When Funky was called upon to make that choice between his allegiance to Perry G. Christie; during the upheaval of the Cabinet firings of Christie and Hubert A. Ingraham in 1984; the oyster years abruptly ended. These four men met for a Bahamian boil fish breakfast at Demeritte’s Fox Hill restaurant on a Saturday in April 2022 with Dr. Daniel Johnson, Executive Chairman of the Gaming Board. Time stops when good friends re-unite. Passing thru the restaurant that morning was John Pinder, the trade unionist and former Director of Labor who lost his political bid for the Fox Hill constituency against Fred Mitchell, National Chairman of the PLP, the Reverend Walter Hanchell, a legend for his charitable work in the capitol, former senior Police Officer Josey, Kenneth “Buzzard” Fountain, the pioneer of the Red Hot label, who has introduced the electric scooter curb side rentals in the tourist district and businessman Autrey Newbold. Once again; Bahamians showing how politics and debate never divide us and we live to share our histories and hope that our survivor stories will engage, empower and propel future generations.

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Kenyatta M. Gibson, served three times as Chairman of the Gaming Board; says country should tip its hat to the professionals in the Industry


Undoubtedly, this is also a fit occasion to salute our Country’s Casino and Domestic Gaming Operators and business people. It was always fulfilling to work in mutual co-operation with them to see to the advancement of the industry and our Country.

he Commonwealth of The Bahamas owes a huge debt of gratitude to the professionals at the Gaming Board for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Thus it is a most apropos time to do so, on this the occasion of the celebration of 100 Years of established gaming in this jurisdiction. Further it is also a perfect occasion to pause, reflect and re-commit to Industry goals and objectives.

I have witnessed in my lifetime a starling growth in the Gaming industry. I am led to recall time when I was called upon to advocate and others had the task to adjudicate. Our nation’s reputation has been unquestionably enhanced by the stellar job done by the men and women who populate the Gaming Board for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

I have had the distinct privilege to have served as Chairman of the Board on three occasions and under both the Progressive Liberal Party Government headed by Prime Minister Perry G. Christie and the Free National Movement Governments headed by Prime Ministers Hubert A. Ingraham and Dr. Hubert Minnis. I have also had the pleasure of having worked with several Secretaries to the Board. When I first came to the Gaming Board, I would’ve been the first to admit that this was a new arena for me. I shall be forever grateful and appreciative of the cadre of professionals at the Board who ensured and supported my familiarization with all aspects of their work and expertise. Over the periods of my Chairmanships, I was happy to facilitate and encourage the intense training off shore exchanges and continued education exercises and participation that the Board’s staff availed themselves of. This Industry over which the Gaming Board has regulatory oversight is very important and vital part of the Bahamian


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economy. The Gaming Board has first watch and superintendence over of the nation’s Casino industry and now of late also the Domestic Gaming Industry. It is on the frontline of ensuring that the relevant laws of this Country are followed. The hard working professional of the Gaming Board ensure that the transparency of our regularization processes is manifestly adhered to.

There will be more golden opportunities for a new cadre of Bahamians in this electronic age and this still relatively new century to have rewarding careers in Gaming. The Board’s job and duty to the nation can never be overestimated in this regard or understated. To every employee of the Board; and to those who work in the Industry as a whole and to those whose future will be in this golden industry, these 100 Years of Gaming summons us to our highest calling: that is to endeavor with distinction to make this Industry prosperous and secure, dynamic and resilient for at least 100 years more. Indeed, I know that we are all up to the task! Kenyatta M. Gibson Former Chairman

PAST CHAIRMEN OF THE GAMING BOARD The Honorable Archibald Loftus Roker Sir Arlington Griffith Butler Kt. The Rt. Honorable Perry Gladstone Christie Milo Butler Junior Bradley Roberts Claire Hepburn Elliot Lockhart QC Kenyatta M. Gibson Malcolm Adderley Dr. Andre Rollins Terah Rahaming

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Graeme Davis + Robert “Sandy” Sands Baha Mar Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs


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Graeme Davis + Robert “Sandy” Sands Baha Mar Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs

Give us a brief synopsis of your company, who owns it, who manages it and its branding? Baha Mar is a $4.88 billion leading resort destination in The Bahamas and home to three iconic oceanfront hotels, the richly refined Rosewood, the playfully hip SLS, and the stylish and modern Grand Hyatt, Baha Mar. With an unrivaled choice of world class dining options by celebrity chefs, the largest casino in the Caribbean, the luxurious Baha Bay water park, a stellar arts and conventions center, affluent retail outlets and a spectacular array of 76

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amenities and experiences, Baha Mar offers all guests the luxury of choice. Baha Mar’s Casino is like no other, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking sparkling turquoise Bahamian water. It’s the largest and most luxurious casino in the Caribbean, designed for gaming of every level, from casual players to high-stakes rollers. Here, you’ll find a perfect combination of thrilling energy and sublime luxury, as you partake in 18 different types of table games, over 1,000 slot machines and live sports betting by William Hill. Baha Mar’s Baha Bay is home to the only casino gaming pavilion inside a waterpark and allows

our guests enjoy a premium gaming experience while visiting the resort newest amenity. Your resort combines so many appealing components to the Bahamas experience for your guests. Is your embrace of Art, sense of place, high end sophistication and the training investment in your Bahamian staff bringing the results you want? Absolutely. In the last five years, we have established Baha Mar as the premier destination in the Caribbean, and a huge part of that is ensuring our on-property experience reflects the island’s rich culture.


Graeme Davis + Robert “Sandy” Sands

Baha Mar Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs

Our approach has always been to focus on our associates first. We create an exceptional work environment, believing that if we inspire and motivate them every day, their positive spirit and attitude will transfer directly to the guest’s experience. It is a simple formula that works. If the associates are happy then the guests will be happy. It comes down to taking care of the associates from day one. From the start, hiring associates with the right attitude is key, no matter what background they have. Is it an easy walk, based on your experience; in training your staff to appreciate the thin lines between your resort style vacation product and your casino/gaming offers? Baha Mar is a fully integrated resort development and associates are trained to be fully aware of all resort and gaming amenities, offerings and products. This takes place through orientation, HR initiatives, daily property/casino briefings and quarterly departmental meetings. We strive to ensure that our associates have a wholistic understanding of the property’s individual brands and casino allowing them to identify and engage every type of guest they may encounter at Baha Mar. The Covid Pandemic and the resulting world traumatic protocols in travel had major impact on your operations. How did you hold it all togeth-

er in these most uncertain and trying of periods? Like most in the travel industry, we were impacted by the decrease in travel and strict protocols that were implemented when COVID-19 cases started to rise, however we always made it a priority to ensure the safety of our guests and employees. We learned to adapt and established robust testing and sanitization protocols. We launched Baha Mar’s Commitment to Wellbeing program, which offered complimentary, on-site COVID-19 rapid antigen testing - with over 530,000 tests given through May 2022 and encouraged social distancing and stringent cleanliness

regimes that go above and beyond Baha Mar’s already vigorous cleaning standards. We then took a step further and introduced Baha Mar’s industry-leading Travel with Confidence program in February 2021. The program ran at the height of the pandemic and continued until May 2022 when The Bahamas officially changed their entry requirements for vaccinated travelers. This was a first-of-its-kind initiative and the only program of its type in the world that promised that should a resort guest test positive for COVID-19 during their stay, Baha Mar would provide courtesy accommodations and a daily Bet On The Bahamas 77


Graeme Davis + Robert “Sandy” Sands Baha Mar Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs

Tell us about your give back to the country and peculiar causes you support? Baha Mar started The Baha Mar Resort Foundation in 2017 with the objective to champion long-term conservation efforts, celebrate The Bahamas' diverse cultural traditions and artistic expressions, and strengthen the community through educational improvements. The foundation is built on the three pillars: community, culture, and conservation, and focuses on disaster recovery, environmental consciousness, youth development, cultural support, and community contribution. dining credit of $150 per person per day, for up to 14 days in quarantine. Alternatively, we made it clear that should a guest choose to return to the United States earlier than the 14-day quarantine period, Baha Mar would provide private jet travel for guests and their immediate family (4-5 people) to the U.S., free of charge. These innovative programs allowed hotel guests to feel safe and secure, knowing that they would be covered and have options if they tested positive during their stay. What is your current outlook for the industry with the new USA and Bahamas travel ameliorations; and 78

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the slow return to pre-pandemic normalcy? We are seeing steady growth in bookings through 2022 and into 2023, however we want to continue doing our part to help keep COVID-19 cases down in The Bahamas. While cases have decreased, they have not gone away, and we will continue to maintain our sanitization protocols to keep our staff, guests and community safe. Overall, we are optimistic about the travel outlook for 2023 and hope to continue to see positive bookings trends now that mandatory entry testing requirements for vaccinated travelers have been removed.

In 2022 alone the foundation assisted with a National Vaccination Program, a blood drive at Princess Margaret Hospital, Easter holiday visits to the Elizabeth Estates Children's Home, and a partnership with Shock Treatment, an intervention program intended for “at risk” youth that invited teens to visit the resort to help encourage the group to make healthy and positive decisions. The Baha Mar Resort Foundation is also dedicated to promoting The Bahamas' unique local art and music communities. The Current Art Center and Gallery serves as the resort's hub for local and international Bahamian artists to collaborate, create, and share their work with the rest of the world.


Graeme Davis + Robert “Sandy” Sands

Baha Mar Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs

Additionally, with The Bahamas' natural ecosystem being its most valuable and vulnerable resource, the foundation recognizes the importance of partnering with leading environmental organizations and implementing innovative sustainability practices. In 2022, this included a coastal cleanup on Saunders Beach and partnerships with organizations like Lend a Hand Bahamas Hydroponics Farm and The Bahamas National Trust to Support Conservation Initiatives.

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“Don’t settle for tedium. Sail to Nassau. Live life as you see fit.” “Isn’t Nassau crawling with pirates? I’ve heard it can be a very tawdry place…” “Not tawdry. Liberated.” Conversation between characters in Assassin’s Creed ® Black Flag™ (Ubisoft, 2015)

Video Games and The Bahamas The Story so Far...


hat’s a brief exchange between swashbuckling pirates from a bygone era of lawlessness - a place where lovable but deadly ruffians call 18th century Nassau home. Cliche? Absolutely. But for many, this is the only representation of The Bahamas they will ever see in a video game - a tropical stopover in Ubisoft’s AAA best-selling Assassin’s Creed franchise.

But it is not the only place where video games and The Bahamas converge. Dig a little deeper in the sand, and there are countless stories of what it means to be a gamer when you live in one of the most unforgettable destinations in the world. Take, for example, the gaming journeys of two NBA greats who hail from the islands: Rick Fox and DeAndre Ayton. Former NBA all-star and gaming/esports entrepreneur Rick Fox grew up in The Bahamas – and video games helped him understand that to be the best, you have to work hard and practice. Fox’s first interaction with video games came when his father would drop him off at a local arcade on sunny week-

end mornings - with only a handful of quarters to last him the entire day. The finite resources forced Fox to continually hone his game - and built an understanding that a pursuit of perfection would get him to greatness (in this case, a longer day of fun, but in the future, achieve his professional basketball goals). More recently, when Bahamas native and NBA star DeAndre Ayton moved to the US in order to pursue his hoop dreams, it was video games that kept him connected to the people back home while in a strange new country. His height and his accent made him different from the American kids, many of whom would pick on DeAndre, making him

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Deandre Ayton, really loves video games. The Phoenix Suns star spends countless hours playing competitively online with friends, family members and anyone else willing to challenge him. Jesse Rieser for ESPN

feel more homesick. But he could hop on his console every night after practice and be right back there with his friends on the islands, doing the only thing he loved as much as basketball. When Ayton would be drafted first by the Phoenix Suns, he would bring his gaming rig along with him on long road trips - another chance to do what he loves with the people who matter most an approach to life that courses through the veins of almost everyone born and raised in the Bahamas. Although the Fox and DeAndre stories could take place almost anywhere, being a gamer in The Bahamas has always been a little different from other parts of the world. Kids can’t just walk down to their local Gamestop and pick up the hottest titles. Next generation consoles and the latest PCs aren’t always available. To play, Bahamians oftentimes need to invoke the DIY spirit of the country. It’s a spirit that turns gamers into hackers, PC builders, even game developers - because sometimes if you can’t find it, you just have to create it yourself. What would really serve the Bahamas well in terms of video games would be nurturing young minds who dream of creating the next top global esports game title like Call of Duty (Activision) or Apex Legends (Electronics Arts). We believe that putting resources into

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game design, content production and coding programs in all levels of schooling would form the foundation of a new era of game-makers based in the islands.

a journey back to the arena for different sports from around the world, but nowhere is it more crucial than in the growing world of esports.

We Invite Competition: The Future of Video games/Esports in The Bahamas

Even after the challenges presented by the last two years, esports in 2020 is still a $1 billion+ industry - with many experts predicting that the sector will cross the $5 billion mark as soon as 2030. The numbers don’t lie; esports are big business, and just getting bigger. But what esports lacks and what it truly cries out for is a place to call home - a role The Bahamas could play with ease.

When people think about competitive gaming, they often conjure up images of teams doing battle across 1000’s of miles via hi-speed internet. Or an in-person LAN-based event where the only people in attendance are those competing. The real story is that a live esports event is something that has to be experienced to understand. The players are not just faces hidden behind a monitor, known only by their avatar or username. The best of the best at games like League of Legends or CS:GO are as beloved as any all-star in their chosen sport. Their names are chanted and wins celebrated by tens of thousands in specially constructed arenas, designed just for esports. Esports played on in individual homes and hotspots during the worst of COVID - but the crowds and the buzz were missing -an essential part of the game that was stolen from the sport in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, with COVID losing steam, crowds of loyal and excited fans are now returning to arenas to root on their esports athletes and favorite teams. It’s

Esports tourism is growing at a rapid rate - and could provide a significant revenue stream to the country - and so much more. Hosting major esports events on the islands of The Bahamas would attract the top professional gamers in the world - and with their arrival comes a lasting impression on native Bahamians who aspire to become champions themselves. And not just those already playing at a high level, but young people who haven’t had exposure to esports as a whole. Does the presence of pros make a difference when it comes to the future success of esports in The Bahamas? Consider this: in the 21st century, baseball in Japan is a thriving, multi-billion dollar business. Yet the game is anything but native to the country or its people. The

sport’s popularity can be traced to a series of barnstorming tours in the mid20th century that saw the best players from the United States. The rest is baseball history. Replace baseball with live-streaming, competitive gaming and content creation and the chance to build a thriving gaming/tech community is right there for the taking. The infrastructure is already present. The Bahamas have been providing sports as diverse as American football, cricket and sailing for decades. Bahamians know how to put on an event - now it’s time to match them with one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

with the history of business in The Bahamas. One need look no further than the Prohibition Era in the United States in the early 20th century. Then, the Bahamas once used blackjack and baccarat tables to attract visitors. The country recognized opportunity, just as it is now with the endless possibilities presented by the Metaverse. Plus, there are a number of key benefits to such a venture. A Metaverse Bahamas can entice potential first time visitors in a totally new way - far eclipsing travel guides or even traditional video found on the current version of the internet.

and boutiques that lets them experience the goods and services as if they were there doing it in person. More immersive environments powered by innovative technology is making this all possible right now and in the years ahead. The recipe for success is to build intelligently while being first-to-market among countries with a similar vision. Building for the future - Making More Opportunities - Conclusion We want to build the foundation that will attract those who are building the future.

Crypto and Web3 in the Bahamas The Bahamas and its residents have always prioritized family, community and values. With that strong foundation, The Bahamian business community has historically been able to pursue opportunities into new, less-proven sectors without fear of losing its way, or placing a great burden on its citizens. As of Mid-2022, there exists a certain amount of uncertainty surrounding the future of crypto currency. But support for a crypto-presence in the country has come from numerous industry leaders, including FTX. One of the leading crypto currency platforms, FTX has planted a flag in The Bahamas, putting their world headquarters on the island of Nassau. Companies like this are, as we speak, discussing the future of currency - and the fact that many of these discussions are taking place in The Bahamas speaks to a positive future for digital sectors of all kinds in the country. Moving to the Metaverse Now, The Bahamas prepares to enter the brave new world of the Metaverse - where everything you can do on the islands, will have an equivalent in an immersive digital space? Why, you might ask, would one of the most beautiful places in the world need to create a digital version of itself? It makes sense because it is consistent

A fully-functional Metaverse world can also strengthen the bond between the islands and those who have been to visit already - keeping them in touch with the local residents they met during their stay, as well as other travelers who share a passion for the country. Finally, the Metaverse is a bold new potential revenue stream for local merchants who, once confined to sell their goods strictly in-country, can now open a virtual store on a virtual street with other Bahamian retailers. It’s always been possible to do this on earlier iterations of the internet of course, but the Metaverse will encourage sales via advanced tech such as virtual reality and 3D animation. The visitor will feel as if they are actually walking the streets of a clever little bazaar, filled with shops

This is about so much more than simply planning a special event - or even an annual event. The vision is to build a gaming/esports/Web3 culture in The Bahamas that attracts visitors, generates revenue, and educates a populace to the point where the islands become synonymous with innovation in these fast-growing industries. Like the baseball players decades ago, this is an opportunity to plant a seed and build a legacy from which future generations of Bahamians and visitors will benefit from in myriad ways. Contribution by Subnation Media

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From left to right : Kevin Stuart Deputy Chairman, Karen Thompson Passard Board Member, Dr. Daniel Johnson Executive Chairman, George Weech former Member of Parliament for Bimini, Robert DeSalvio , President of Genting Americas East, operators of the Bimini Casino, The Hon. Jobeth Coleby Davis Minister of Transport & Housing Member of Parliament (Elizabeth) The Hon. Obie Wilchcombe Minister for Social Services/ Government Business Leader House of Assembly & Member of Parliament for Bimini and West Grand Bahamas, Ian Tynes Secretary to the Board.

George Weech, a cherished and revered son of Bimini cuts the ribbon to open the new Gaming Board Office now situate in the National Insurance Government Business Complex. Jobeth Coleby Davis looks on and behind is Dr. Johnson and Mr. Wilchcombe.

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Bimini Office Staff

left to right: Jacquan Brennen-Inspector 111, Alberto David – Inspector III, Anita Harris –Bain – Inspector II, Jade Duncombe – receptionist/clerk, Marcian Curry Jr – Officer in Charge Bimini Office, Atarah Ellis – Admin Asst, Marchanelle Dean – Senior Inspector II, Jay Saunders – Inspector III

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“We had to create a level playing field for the Bahamian. We had to screen first of all to make sure we were attracting the right people. The opportunities were there and we had to prepare our people, “says Arthur Peet. A “whole lot of caution” went into creating the framework, ethics and standard of the Gaming Board in the early 1970s. Mr. Peet a retired and respected Chartered Accountant is the longest serving Member of the Gaming Board. He sat down in the Boardroom of the Gaming Board in May 2022 to reminisce on his experiences and to give insight to his successors on the road ahead. Quite a few staff members , learning Mr.

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Peet was in the building, top of the Hill Collins Avenue in the Deloitte Building; came on up to the fourth floor to bring him greetings. “So nice to see you. You hired me,” those were the sentiments senior staff members expressed.

“It was a process and the process was let us take it in stages. We started out looking for our brightest and best. Taking people out of Gaming System and placing them. They had the knowledge because of their work. We allowed them to come over and developed from the inside.”

Mr. Peet is a humanitarian and serves on the board of the Children’s Emergency Hostel and before his retirement he was very active in the work of service clubs like Kiwanis in the country. Here are some of Mr. Peet’s thoughts:ON ASSEMBLING THE PIONEERS OF THE GAMING BOARD IN ITS INFANCY…

IN EARLY DAYS JUST HOW TIMID BAHAMIANS WERE OF WORKING FOR THE BOARD IN AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE THEY HAD BEEN TOLD LOCALS WERE NOT QUALIFIED? “There was reluctance at the beginning. There was an apprehension. I don’t think they wanted to be set up. Sometimes in that kind of environment you can be in a reverse position and the Gaming Board

had to be comfortable people we were getting people were of high integrity. Nationalistic. Not looking forward to being swayed … moving forward for the dollars.” CONJECTURE ON BAHAMIANS NOT KNOWING HOW TO BEHAVE IN A CASINO ENVIRONMENT GAMBLING ALONGSIDE VISITORS AND WORKING ON THE CASINO FLOOR… “Behavior not foolish but a cautious position. This case required much caution. This ‘we thing you know. This is ours. Don’t tell us what to do.’ We knew this existed out there. Something had to be reinforced. How do we conduct ourselves? We were ambassadors for the country. We had cases where things did not go as we hoped. There were some embarrassing moments. This was a time when the Gaming Board was creating this new Bahamian image. There was a whole lot of caution. Not completely foolish. Some Bahamian can embarrass you. However it has worked well and Bahamians have earned their right to the top jobs in the Casino.” WHAT WAS THE BOARD LOOKING FOR WHEN YOU DID FACT FINDING TRIPS ABROAD? “When we went abroad; we were looking for the ways they operated their jurisdiction. We wanted to meet with policymakers. And then the Industry people. We wanted to see their operation. What we gathered in those experiences was the level of respect the Gaming Authorities in those jurisdictions had. We knew this was what we were striving for in our regulatory environment.


The Honorable A. Loftus Roker

First Cabinet Minister with responsibility for Gaming

“We have to train our people to appreciate the right they have and their space. And the people have a choice. Whatever that choice is that they make; with a sound mind; you live with it. And so I think we evolved on both sides. We became more comfortable with each other. In the process we learn to respect the right of the other person. To respect opposing views.”

SO MUCH IS BEING SAID ABOUT HOW SOME ENTITIES STILL TRY TO WORK AROUND THE BAHAMIANIZATION POLICY… WILL WE EVER GET TO A NATIONAL UNDERSTANDING THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO COMPROMISE ON THE RIGHT OF THE BAHAMIAN TO HAVE FIRST CHOICE OF THE JOB FOR WHICH HE IS QUALIFIED AND CAN BE TRAINED TO DO? “Arthur Hanna spoke to that. The Bahamian is a special creature and if you not comfortable with him you can leave. We give you some time to adjust. If you are not comfortable… send a replacement. But in mean time we are going to train our people. We can use more adult education programs. Don’t fence me in. Parents fence kids in. Not the right thing. They want them to do certain things. We need a nationalistic programme. Everyone can find their space. Basic training in high school has to be offering our young people options. There is nothing about Gaming in the curriculum. Suppose someone wants a career in Gaming. Maybe we need a national policy. Provide these options. The whole thing needs to be looked at now. Giving the science, technology and the options of what people can do. The Gaming Board may want to look at a Gaming School. Training people. Giving them the option. My wife has a saying. Once it’s not illegal… and it’s not fattening... then do it. WHO DO YOU CREDIT FOR DOING MOST OF THE HEAVY LIFTING IN GAMING FOR BAHAMIANS? “Let’s start at the top. The Bahamas has made a record for itself. A lot of respect is owed to The Honorable A. Loftus Roker; the first Cabinet Minister with responsibility for Gaming. Mr. Roker drew no compromise. Pulled no punches. Wherever he traveled they respected him.”

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The Gaming Board - Grand Bahama

Investigations & Licensing


Front Row From Left: Director John Curtis, Supervising Special Agent Cindy Wilchcombe Back Row From Left: Sr. Inspector Cardinal Fernander, Administrative Assistant Meredith Hendfield, Bet On The Bahamas Sr. Inspector Gregory Munroe, Sr. Inspector Charles Bridgewater

The Gaming Board - Grand Bahama

Regulatory Compliance

Front Row From Left: Sr. Inspector Debbieann Grant, Sr. Inspector Nicole Woods, Deputy Director Selena Sawyer-Gibson, Sr. Inspector Keno Parker, Sr. Inspector Anastasia Knowles Back Row From Left: Inspector Sean Johnson, Inspector Anneka Ferguson, Sr. Inspector Arlene Spence, Inspector Natasha Jones, Inspector Niekieta Cooper, Inspector Diama Forbes, Inspector Lakeisha Ferguson, Sr. Clerk/Typist Brendalee Simmons, Sr. Inspector Antoin King


From Left: Janitress Gaylene Jones, Registry Officer Michelle Knowles, Deputy Director Jacqueline Butler, Sr. Clerk/Typist Makell McBride, Support Services Officer Derick Delancy

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The Gaming Board - Grand Bahama

Freeport Office

Kaylesa Simmons – asst. Sec./ District Head

Registry & Data Entry

From Left: Registry Supervisor Tamia McPhee, Sr. Clerk/ Typist Monique Hanna. Missing in photo: Deputy Director Marsha Forbes 90 Bet On The Bahamas

Freeport Office

Pamela Lightbourne - admin Asst.

Human Resources, Training & Special Development From Left: Director Deltalee Russell, Administrative Assistant Kijanna Harris

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Connecting the dots to casino gambling in the Bahamas and the infamous yet unsolved murder of Sir Harry Oakes, the richest man in the British Empire, 79 years ago.


f this was an Agatha Christie or Erle Stanly Gardiner murder mystery novel “who “dunnit”; we need to meet the odd cast of suspects; and let the plot play along until our murderer slips up and our plodding, brooding, clever detective confronts him with all the evidence which elicits a teary confession. Well that’s how it works on Perry Mason.

A defrocked King, an overzealous ‘queer’ realtor on the hook to Sir Harry for big bucks, a scape goat womanizing French son in law of minor nobility, Miami detectives with instructions to make it look like suicide, a wealthy Swedish inventor with Nazi sympathies & shadowy Chicago Mafia bad guys on the hunt for a casino empire. This real crime story has been made into movies on the silver screen and television series. Countless books proffering who was most likely the murderer.

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It was a stormy, harsh, rainy, thunderous night of 7th July 1943. Sir Harry is discovered in his bed with his skull crushed by a blunt object. His body has been set afire. Yet the winds coming in through an open window of his Westbourne residence estate at West Bay Street or Cable Beach- adjacent to Goodman’s Bay, has doused the flames and what was intended to be a corpse burnt beyond recognition is a cadaver still very much intact. Who is Sir Harry Oakes? At the time of his gruesome murder he is reputed to be the wealthiest man in the British Empire. Born in Maine the USA to a middle class family, young Harry drops out of medical school to go gold prospecting in South America, Africa and Australia. It’s a brutal life but Oakes is determined and tells his friends he knows he will strike it rich one day. He does. In 1912 in the Kirkland Lake in Canada he happens upon the 2nd largest gold mine in North America. A few years later he happens upon another find. He is earning $60,000 daily in what would be equivalent to $750,000 daily in today’s money value. He gets tired of the tax burden the Canadians hit him with and is encouraged by a new friend, Harold Christie to re-locate to Nassau. Harold Christie, many writers and former historians dubbed as “queer, snotty, white realtor is Sir Harry’s close friend. Christie is spending the night at Westbourne. He goes into Sir Harry’s room that morning to enquire about breakfast and comes across this grisly sight. Who does Harold Christie call? He dashes off to the Royal Governor with the terrible news. Christie and Edward V111 the disgraced abdicated King of England and Emperor of India are also very good buddies. Now going under the demoted title Duke of Windsor, and banished to the Colony of the Bahama Islands while the Nazis and Hitler lay havoc to Europe and the Duke makes no secret he is a Nazi apologist. What does the man who gave up his throne because he could not

carry out the discharge of his duties without the companionship of the woman I love do with this startling information from Christie? Edward marshals a cover-up. He restricts the Island’s Police Force from disclosing the murder and puts them under heavy orders as to how to treat the crime scene. Oakes was loved and revered by the local Bahamian people. Since his arrival in Nassau in 1930 he has been a spirited philanthropist. He builds the Oakes Field Hanger Airport. A golf course. A country club. A polo field. Contributes to every charitable cause and employs scores of Bahamians. Put on a wing to the hospital. Provided public transportation. For his good works, the Royal Family in UK has conferred Oakes as a Baronet and the title “Sir”. The news gets out about the murder. Edward, who spends most of his Governorship holidaying in Palm Beach Florida as he scorns his Bahamas posting, has made friends with Edward Melcha, an American police captain and his twiddling detective side kick; James Otto Barton. Edward summons this blundering crew to Nassau to take over the investigation. Their instructions are straight forward. This is not a murder. This is suicide. Make it so. The local police are reduced to yard boys by the American two stooges. Is Edward knowingly assisting in a cover up for his friend, Harold Christie, who will also soon be made a Knight of the Empire? All of this information contained here is deduced from transcripts of the lengthy murder trial where Alfred Demarginy, who is married to Sir Harry’s daughter eldest daughter Nancy, will go on trial charged with the murder of his father in law. Black legal eagle Alfred Adderley is retained by the Crown to lead the prosecution of DeMarginy and young white Attorney Godfrey Higgs is hired by Nancy to defend

her rail roaded husband. Fraudulent and planted finger print evidence Barten enters into evidence as belonging to the son in Law and found at the murder scene is quickly debunked as the Miami detective admits on the stand to lying in parts of his evidence. DeMarginy is acquitted. But the power of the all-powerful Duke does not stop there. DeMarginy is ordered deported from the colony. Looking back and reviewing the case files and the crime scene records, it is discovered that Edward ordered the local police to “wash down” the crime scene completely, therefore contaminating all credible evidence. After DeMaringy’s acquittal the love smitten former Monarch orders the case closed and all investigations to cease. Now imagine the pressure that would have been put on a local Police Force and the population by such autocratic and imperial decision making. Edward gets away with it. Investigators of the murder over the last seven decades have arrived at several conclusions. Their unrepentant culprit always comes down to Harold Christie, who will go on to develop prized private residential estates like Lyford Cay and become embroiled in controversial purchases of swathes of real estate all over the colony from mostly Black illiterate land owners. Harold Christie claimed he slept in the room next to Sir Harry Oakes. Why did he not hear the disturbances in the grisly bedroom? Additionally two police officers at trial testified to have seen Harold Christie driving his vehicle in two different sections of the city at different times that night. Yet under oath Harold Christie said he and Oakes retired to bed before midnight and he did not awake until he went into the bedroom to discover Oakes bludgeoned to death.

Forensic evidence at the scene established that Oakes had been killed at another location and his body brought back to Westbourne, placed on the bed and set afire. Some reporters and investigators say Christie was on the hook to Sir Harry for mega bucks and his loans were being called in. He was about to face disaster and certain financial ruin. Harold Christie was seen in the company of Chicago mobsters connected to Lucky Luciano and although casino gambling was illegal at the time; there was talk of cajoling Edward to grant a casino lawful operation. Sir Harry was reportedly opposed to the idea and the suspicious owners. Already the Bahamian Club was being operated as an illegal Casino on West Bay Street and law enforcement just looked the other way. Scores of the wealthy socialites from Palm Beach and New York and Boston and the UK hung out at the Bahamian Club. It was swank. Another connecting theory on Oakes’s unsolved murder is the stranger friendship between the Swedish investor Axel Wenner-Gren and Edward V111. Already marked as an admirer of Hitler; and his blitzkrieg over Europe, the Duke of Windsor and Wenner-Gren was complicit in a money laundering scheme of which Oakes had discovered and was getting ready to blow the whistle. Wenner-Gren left was also under suspicion by the Americans as a spy for the Nazis. Don’t say the truth will never be known. Dead men do talk. And graves do give up their dead. *Westbourne, the scene of the British Empire’s most talked about unsolved murder mystery was also once the former office/headquarters for the Gaming Board for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas for many years before moving into its Collins Avenue location.

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The Gaming Board Staff - New Providence


Dr. Daniel Johnson/Executive Chairman, Andrew Jackson Gregory Smith/Deputy Secretary (New Business), Edith Stuart/ Manager



Cindy Roberts/ Director, Mr. Ian Tynes, Secretary to the Board, Almonique Moss /Administrative Assistant, Bet On TheAraphastacia Bahamas Dailey/Clerical Assistant. (missing from photo : Simone Taylor/Administrative Assistant)

The Gaming Board Staff - New Providence


Crystal Knowles/ Chief Counsel Monica Stuart/ General Counsel

(left to right) Jone Doe, Jance Doe, John Doe, Jane Doe


Tadashi Palacious/Administrative Assistant, Gena Brown/Senior Director, Gabriel Fowler/Senior Clerk-Typist.

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The Gaming Board Staff - New Providence


Lynette Mortimer/Inspector, Davyvonne Butler/Senior Inspector, Michael Neely/Senior Director, Sheniqua Brown/Deputy Director, Latonya Symonette/Inspector, Dominique Simms/Inspector. (Missing from photo) Dashinique Sealey/Senior Inspector, Lathera Ward/Inspector.


Constantino Evans/Director, Devaughn Bonimy/Inspector, Shanton Bethel/Senior Inspector, Avon Wood/Deputy Director. MISSING from photo Stephanie Ingraham/ Inspector

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Randy Beneby/Senior Director, Maurice Wallace/Deputy Director, Harold Bosfield/Senior Director Inspectorate, Demetrius Butler/Senior Inspector, Sharmanique Edgecombe/Senior Inspector, Horatio Butler/Senior Inspector, Joseph Lord/Senior Inspector (Missing from photo) Austin Grant/ Deputy Director


Aniska Seymour/Deputy Director, Colleen Knowles/Senior Inspector, Cheryl Carey/Senior Director, Renatta Hanna/Inspector.

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The Gaming Board Staff - New Providence

CASINO OPERATIONS/REGULATIONS CASINO OPERATIONS (REGULATIONS) Ulric Johnson/Inspector, Sterell Mackey/ Inspector, Bernadette Storr/ Inspector, Julia Taylor/ Inspector, George Gardiner/ Inspector, Brando Poitier/ Inspector, Gordon Musgrove/ Inspector, Clifford Cooper/ Inspector, Lamona Gibson/ Inspector.



Kevin Almace/ Director, Anitrah Rolle/Deputy Director, Almina Taylor/Inspector, Cherio Frazier/Senior Inspector, Bryan Flowers/Inspector, Christinia Ryan/Inspector, Missing from photo Tamica Armbrister/Inspector Bet On The Bahamas

The Gaming Board Staff - New Providence


Geoffrey King/Senior Computer Operations, Davard Ferguson/ Deputy Director, Audley Hepburn/Senior Systems Director, Vaughn Conyers/Computer Tech 2, Omar Edwards/Computer Tech 2, Lavoyn Poitier/Computer Tech.

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The Gaming Board Staff - New Providence


Pamela Sturrup, Martha Gibson, Adrian Sands/Assistant Secretary, Myrell David, Cheryl Stubbs, Valderine Penn , Delphine Smith.


Claudia Williamson/Senior Director, Naomi Curtis/Administrative Assistant/ Anya James/FINANCIAL COMPTROLLER, Jacqueline Smith/Clerical Assistant, Carl Rolle/Accounts Supervisor, Yvette Hall/ Assistant Manager, Vernica Butler/ Administrative Assistant, Marcian Cooper/Messenger.

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The Gaming Board Staff - New Providence


Felicity Walker/ Supervising Special Agents, Veronica Taylor/Assistant Secretary, Regina Bullard/Senior Director, Killy Heastie/Supervising Special Agents, Perry Nicholls/ Supervising Special Agents, Marlene Winder/Administrative Assistant, Genaye Lightbourne/Senior Clerk, Deidre Ferguson/Agent, , Videll Smith/Inspector, Javan Goodman/Deputy Director, Christina Bethell-Gbson/


Tanya Stubbs/Director, Annie Fowler/ Registry Officer, Tamika Brown/ Senior Registry Clerk, Veronica Taylor/ Asst Secretary to the Board. Missing from the photo: Sabrina Anderson/ Registry Supervisor, Judy McPhee/Senior Registry Clerk and Carolyn Johnson-Romer/ Data Entry Clerk

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Casinos have existed in The Bahamas for over one hundred years. The first casino, the small Bahamian Club,11 opened in 1920 in Nassau on New Providence Island and catered to mostly American tourists as a seasonal business. Although prior to 1960 gaming was not significant to the economy, illegal gaming flourished, and the Bahamian Club casino was the first casino in The Bahamas to receive a license and exemption to the prohibition of gaming, in an effort to curb and regulate illegal gaming. In 1964, the first larger casino, The Monte Carlo, opened in the Lucayan Beach Hotel on the Island of Grand Bahama. The second casino on Grand Bahama opened in Freeport two years later. Finally, the legislature responded and passed the 1969 Gaming Act, which remains in place today. During the years following the passage of the 1969 Gaming Act, casinos continued to open and close on several islands. In part due to the growth of gaming, tourism became a dominant product of the Bahamian economy, and currently about forty percent of the workforce in The Bahamas are employed in resorts and casinos.

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ne of the most enduring legacies of “The Contract” was the importation of the “Hat Shop” or Numbers businesses into the Colony of the Bahama Islands at the end of World War 11. The Contract is the colloquial term applied to an arrangement negotiated by the Duke of Windsor, serving as Royal Governor of the Bahama Islands, after his abdication from the Throne in 1939. Edward, the Monarch was sent here

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to keep him away from his own predilection Germany and what the British Empire feared could lead to him becoming compromised by Hitler’s Nazi forces. The Duke and his wife the Duchess Wallis Simpson, actually despised the Bahamas and he spent most of his time in Palm Beach Florida, USA on the socialite scene. Nevertheless, the Duke was able to seal an Immigration Deal with the United States which would allow for Bahamian men and women

to be employed on the vast cotton, fruit, tobacco and animal farms across the Southern United States and as far as the state of California. It should be pointed out here that this Employment Agreement has been often skewered to represent a major bona fide accomplishment for the Bahamian people. In fact it was truly a roundabout way for the racist Jim Crow South, facing Reconstruction and losing their tradition-

al Negro or Black farm labor hands to replace their workers with Black persons from the Caribbean. “The Contract” saw thousands of Bahamians from all over the 700 Islands, rocks and cays of the Bahamas immigrate to destinations like South Florida and the Bahamian diaspora in the USA is a story for another day. Returning home on the completion of their “Contract” these Bahamian workers imported ideas, policies and concepts learned from their experiences in the USA. It must be also pointed out here that this was by far not a romantic period of a situation of niceties for these thousands of Bahamians. Racism was toxic. Bahamians were lynched and discriminated against. Two major enduring components the Bahamians brought back from this Contract Experience were:The Emergence of organized labor and the Trade Union Movement started by Charles Rodriquez, a Bahamian born in Exuma with roots in South America And, The Hat Shop of Numbers business. Some early records of conversations with Contract workers say the Hat Shop or Gambling / lottery/Numbers game was a slick concept by Black Americans to get the Bahamian worker to wager away all his earning on a chance before he could send money home to his family. This claim is a little dubious as the larger part of the Contract workers wages was actually paid in the Bahamas for families for access those funds. The Numbers/Lottery game was safer and less contentious than a card game of Poker or Black Jack and a dice game of craps. How it worked was brightly colored balls, a shave off the size of the ones used in Billiards/ Pool were each painted with numbers/digits from One (1) to One Hundred (100) and placed into a crocus sack. Players could put a wager on any amount of numbers. By the time the Bahamas went off the British Pound Sterling in 1965, each individual bet cost ten cents and the pot or winnings was Six ($6.00 ) Dollars, therefore a Ten ($10.00) Dollar winning wager on a number earned the player the sum of Six Hundred Dollars ($600.00). Father Allen , an American who followed his Bahamian friends from the Contract to the


Sir Sidney, Nine, Percy and Sir Lynden Bahama is reputed to have anchored the numbers business here as early as 1958. Scores of Bahamians were employed as “Writers” for the Father Allen enterprise. This was a job of trust. Writers issued no receipts to their bettors for their wagers. Bettors usually had relationships with their writers and there were scarce instants of theft of a bettor’s winnings. There were two throws of the ball every day. Each number house had a specific named placed and time when the ball would “throw” and bettors could be on hand to witness the exercise. Very transparent. Writers submitted the numbers wagered on with the amounts on a regular letter size sheet of paper with the numbers from one to 100 in small blocks. The amounts bet on a number were placed against the respective block. Writers turned over their receipt books to the Office and a bet was not officially in the pool until the Office staff tabulated the purchases and collected in full. Writers were required to turn in their sheets forty five minutes before the throw. Any dereliction was on the writer who would be responsible to his bettor. This is how the jargon, “what fall?” and “What dey throw?” entered the culture. Father (not a religious title) Allen would double down his enterprise with a chain of chicken and fries take out outlets all over Nassau, which were also doubled as the “office”

for Lottery sales. He became a major financial contributor to the fledgling Progressive Liberal Party in its infancy. Father Allen’s signature restaurant was on the corner of Wulff Road and Minnie Street. It opened at 8 am and closed at 2 am. A Juke Box which never shut up kept the atmosphere grooving to Otis Redding, Tom Jones, The Staple Singers, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Temptations. One of the first of its kind in the country, a giant television screen displayed white women scantily clad dancing to the music; years before the video music cable television enterprise took off. Father Allen’s Bahamian competition would come from Percy Munnings, a building contractor, realtor and businessmen. Munnings would take his association with the PLP a step farther by becoming its National Treasurer. Percy as he was called operated out of The Central Highway Inn on Wulff Road. in the mid 1960s Wulff road was jumping for Black Bahamians. It was the Bay Street or down town tranche for the new Bahamian entrepreneur. It would fashion Oscar Johnson a Member of the House of Assembly in 1970 to call for a Casino on Wulff Road for black Bahamians and new

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gentrification to turn it into the new Bay Street or city Centre.

Stokes Thompson who operated on Mackey Street.

The Central Highway Inn doubled as a retail liquor shop in the front shop and a vast space behind all of this was a private club and dining area. Here, every year, Percy would host a birthday party for the country’s Prime Minister Lynden Pindling and hundreds of Bahamians on the social ladder attended or just gathered on the outside for food and drink. Superstar Hollywood Icon Sir Sidney Poitier attended these party parties.

Thompson’s story is tragic. West Indians were recruited to join the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the British administration of the Force had a dim view on these Hat Shop/Numbers illegal enterprises. Whenever a raid was set up by the Police on these outlets, they were led by a West Indian Officer.

Percy soon overtook Father Allen by doubling his writers and paying them a bigger percentage of their sales. Percy also found new markets amongst the Haitian community and added Haitian writers, who became his biggest salesmen. Women took advantage of this equal opportunity job and by the mid-1980s there were just as many women writers as men. Percy was a colorful character and there wasn’t a gamble or bet he wouldn’t take. Legend has it that Percy and Ezra “The last of the big time spenders” Thompson hooked in a dice game at the Central Highway Inn one night which went on for two days. Both men broke each other and the other rebounded. Ezra Thompson, loud and confident and younger brow beat Percy, taking his nerve and cleared the table of the last jackpot which some present at the game say was $80,000. Percy asked for time to go for more money and a chance to even the score. Ezra replied he would play Percy for the pants he was wearing. The bet was on. In less than thirty minutes, Percy was stripping down to his boxers and handing Ezra his polyester grey slacks. Percy reached in his pants pocket to take out the keys to his truck. Ezra cried foul. NO way. He had won the pants and whatever was in the pocket was his as well. Ezra had a friend take his Cadillac home and he left in Percy’s truck. Another major player was Gene “Mazookie” Tooth who also operated with chicken shacks with his headquarters on King Street, just a stone’s throw from Laverne “Bowe” Stuart’s Zanzibar and gambling empire and Talbot

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The reason being that the British Commissioner of Police knew many of his Bahamian officers played the numbers and had families who worked as writers. Chances of the news of a raid leaking out were imminent. A police raid at Thompson’s place ended with a runner being shot and Thompson was convicted and spent time in jail. Nassau in the 70s and 80s had its share of colorful and unforgettable characters associated with the Hat Shop/Numbers business and what was called the “Over the Hill Casino”. There was Donald “Nine” Rolle, perhaps one of the better golfers, pool players the country has ever produced. Nine was a crap or dice game genius. He had the ability to rub the two dice in his scalp and feel the embedded spots before he turned them lose on the table. Sammie Daddy O Miller who was a reputed genius at “ Coon Can” and Twenty One Black Jack and any there were any number of Bahamian Poker maestros. Whilst local Bahamians cooled their heels and silently protested their Constitutional ban from playing in the Casinos, the over the hill casino thrived. Once again it was Wulff Road which held the cards. On Peach Street, Percy Munnings son, Sette Munnings operated a thriving enterprise. Basil “Six Francis” from Fort Fincastle was the Head Croupier or what was called “The House Man” there for over twenty years. Persons who played there today estimate that every weekend; from Friday mid-day to Monday morning the spot saw over a quarter of million dollars pass through the table. On Cordeaux Avenue and East Street Sodie Neely was head houseman at a spot just four doors down from Carroll’s Liquor Store, where another weekend game was in action.

The Numbers/Lottery local business got its astronomical lift when Government shut down the Hobby Horse Race Hall in 1978. For more than 40 years, the Bahamas enjoyed yearly seasonal quarter and thoroughbred racing with a parimutuel purse. (See Hobby Horse Hall story*)The end of horse racing created a serious void for Gamblers and Horse Owners and the hundreds of persons employed in the horse racing industry. This led to a proliferation of the “over the hill casino”. Percy Munnings and Cecil “The Spaniard” Gonzalez and Louis Stokes Thompson Junior became forces to reckon with in the real estate business. These businessmen bought up prime properties all over the country. Munnings and Thompson developed middle class subdivisions. In the late 80s and 90s, as patrons got older and died, younger persons moved in to satisfy this Bahamian attraction to gambling. Autrey Newbold on Cordeaux Avenue North and Audley Archer on Ragged Island Street. The Punch Bowl and Tom Ferguson on Ross Corner. These were the locales for Black working class Bahamians. The muck-a-mucks or high society blacks and white Bahamians enjoyed their gaming past time on the private residential premises of some very notable and influential personalities. Some of these premises had Las Vegas styled and manufactured craps and poker and roulette tables. Sidney Stubbs, a former Member of Parliament operated a lavish Las Vegas styled Casino on Shirley Street. Croupiers from the major legal casinos often moon lighted at these Bahamian venues. All beyond the taxation of the Gaming Board of the Bahamas. By 1992, the United States daily lotteries had become the new sensation and local gambling houses had abandoned their local single and two ball draw and were now selling the product off the US State ball draws. This was largely magnified by the Florida State Lottery which had an escalating prize money ladder which increased every week, when there was no winner. Given the frequent flyer travel miles Bahamians take to Florida regularly, it is easy to see and understand how this crept up and seized the culture.

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