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Web shops will not be able to continue offering sports betting to their customers once the government regularizes the web shop industry, according to Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson.
Web shops, including but not limited to Asue Draw, Island Luck, Chances and Paradise Games, offer sports betting for a variety of matches and events such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The Gaming Bill permits "domestic players", who are defined as ordinary residents in The Bahamas, permanent residents and work permit holders, to participate in "numbers games" with licensed web shops.
A numbers game is defined as a game made available by the holder of a gaming house operator license "in terms of which any single number or combination of numbers ranging from 000 to 999 may be wagered upon by a player at odds, which are fixed at the time of conclusion of the wager".
Gaming regulations have not yet been made public.
While responding to questions surrounding some web shops expanding their services to include sports betting and in-house financing, Maynard-Gibson said, "Certainly if that is happening, that is certainly something that will undermine the regulatory regime and it will have to be addressed.
"We will have a well-regulated jurisdiction. There is no compromising in that at all."
Maynard-Gibson said she was not aware web shops are facilitating sports betting, but once the government regularizes the industry, those establishments will only be allowed to conduct business in accordance with their business licenses.
A web shop could be granted a gaming house agent license, a gaming house operator license or a gaming house premises license, according to the amended Gambling Bill.
The Nassau Guardian reported in May that some web shops were expanding their range of products after Asue Draw advertised its new branch called "Asue Draw+Spin" on Robinson Road.
Shortly after the revelation, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe suggested the move could be dangerous.
He said web shop operators should have waited until the government started to regularize the industry before expanding.
Wilchcombe was specifically referring to sports betting.
However, he suggested web shop owners are being "prudent businessmen" by trying to "push the envelope".
"But we are not going to be dictated to by what has happened," Wilchcombe said.
"We are going to be dictated to by what is a workable situation for an environment where we are going to have steady growth and development."
As it relates to the in-house financing programs some web shops offer, Prime Minister Perry Christie has said it is that "underground economy" that led him to go against his word on the failed gambling referendum and move to regularize the web shop industry.
The Gaming Bill is expected to be tabled next week.
Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday he would have to confer with the attorney general before making any announcements about the fate of web shop operations in the country.
Christie spoke with reporters briefly after Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett lifted a conservatory order that prevented authorities from stopping web shop gaming.
The prime minister was approached while at a lunchtime function. He said he needed a chance to read the judgment.
"I don't think you can ask me that," he said when asked if police will arrest people in web shops.
"I can not tell you what the responsibility of the police [is]. The police are there to enforce the law, and so if you want to ask the police whether they are going to enforce the law that's what you should do. Obviously, we expect when a judgment is read that after the police have had an opportunity to read the judgment and have the judgment interpreted for them then they will act."
Last week, Crown Counsel Loren Klein said the Office of the Attorney General would prosecute web shop operators if Sir Michael discharged the conservatory order, and they refused to cease gaming.
Klein has said the web shop owners would face "a plethora of offenses".
When asked yesterday if the ruling meant police would shut down web shops immediately, Klein said, "I think the authorities would respect the process of the courts.
"I don't see that happening, certainly not until the Court of Appeal has had a chance to consider the matter."
On January 28, a majority of people who voted in a referendum voted against the establishment of a national lottery and the regulation and taxation of web shops.
The next day, Christie ordered all web shop operators to shut down their gaming operations immediately or face arrest and prosecution.
On January 30, attorneys Wayne Munroe and Alfred Sears, a former attorney general, obtained the conservatory order on behalf of Island Luck, Island Game, Whatfall, FML Group of Companies, Asue Draw, Paradise Games and Chances.
Senior Supreme Court Justice Jon Isaacs granted the conservatory order pending the outcome of the substantive matter on the legality of web shops.
Christie said yesterday his government's position on web shops has not changed. However, he said officials will comply with the decision of the court.
"My position is on the record," he said. "It's been referred to in the case itself.
"Once the court rules clearly on the law there's no confusion as to what is to be expected and if the web shops have been ruled to be an illegal, an illicit activity, then they have to act accordingly."
The attorneys representing the web shops have said they will appeal Sir Michael's ruling.
Attorneys representing web shop operators have appealed Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett's decision to discharge a conservatory order that had protected their clients' operations from police interference.
They charged in their appeals filed on Tuesday that he erred in his judgement.
Attorney Wayne Munroe also filed a request for a stay of execution of Sir Michael's ruling pending the determination of a substantial application before the Supreme Court.
In his judgment, Sir Michael said, "This is not a proper case for the court to exercise its discretion to restrain the police from discharging their duties as they consider it proper to do."
Attorney Alfred Sears, a former attorney general, claimed that the chief justice "misdirected himself in attempting to resolve complex factual issues at an interlocutory hearing".
Munroe made similar claims, stating that Sir Michael wrongly executed his discretion when he ruled that he could not tell the police how to discharge their duties.
The lawyers secured the conservatory order from Senior Justice Jon Isaacs on January 30.
It came the morning after Prime Minister Perry Christie announced that web shop gaming cease.
Christie issued the directive after a majority of people who voted in a referendum on January 28 voted no to the taxation and regulation of web shop gaming and no to the establishment of a national lottery.
The decision by Sir Michael to lift the order has raised uncertainty about the fate of web shops.
Sears contends the judge erred when he failed to recognize the constitutional right of his client (Paradise Games) not to be discriminated against on the basis of national origin, while foreign operators of gaming are subsidized by the government at public expense.
Sir Michael said in his ruling it is unclear how the constitutional question is raised in these proceedings.
He said the only action that is being threatened is a criminal prosecution under the Lotteries and Gaming Act.
Munroe represents Percy Web Cafe, Island Luck, FML Group of Companies, Asue Draw, Whatfall and Chances.
Sweet Island Gal has set the tune for all C-class sloops this regatta season, when she sailed away with top honors in the annul All-for-One Regatta. The Lady Nathalie swept the B-class division, winning all three races.
The Long Island boat won one of the three races and finished second in the next two. The remaining two races were shared between the Asue Draw Thunderbird and Witty K. Fourth went to Barbarian and Jacob’s Ladder was fifth. In the B-class the Lady Nathalie was the overall winner, Ants Nest was second and the Cobra third.
The All-for-One Regatta which is the first event on the calendar was held at Montagu Beach. Only B and C-class sloops competed. Winning the first race in the ...
Your Managing Editor Candia Dames is a very senior journalist on the Bahamian landscape so we must assume that she has interacted with former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham on many occasions. She would know that the former prime minister is a thoughtful man, not given to making decisions with national implications on flimsy, unsound 'stories'.
That being the case, I wonder whether Dames really believes that anyone would be so silly as to present Ingraham with a report, from which he was expected to make serious decisions on the legalization of gaming and the taxing of web shops, which alleged that the numbers business in The Bahamas is divided among numbers men and their organizations as follows:
FML Group - 40 percent
Island Luck - 50 percent
Asue Draw - 50 percent
Island Game - 35 percent
A number of other "fringe groups" also control additional percentages of the numbers business.
There is only 100 percent of any whole. It is impossible to divide a whole into percentages that total more than 100. The percentages reported in Dames' article exceed 100 percent, indeed they exceed 175 percent!
Dames' story alleges that the report was compiled by the police. It appears that the primary source of information was the exaggerated boasts of individuals engaged in unlawful activity in our country.
We are also asked to believe that the police submitted this report to the former prime minister. It is difficult to imagine a scenario under which the commissioner of police would have submitted such a poorly investigated report to the former prime minister. Dames should enlighten us on the matter.
From her story, it appears that the late financial secretary, Ehurd Cunningham, was very much involved in the matter. Dames might also comment on that. I have heard it said that Cunningham was a proponent of regularizing web shops operators in The Bahamas. He is said to have believed that the numbers businesses could serve as an important new source of government revenue if brought into the legitimate economy.
But Cunningham was an intelligent man. He knew Ingraham well, both personally and professionally. I would hazard a guess that he was smart enough not to present an unprofessional report to the former prime minister as a basis on which he and his government could make a decision on regulating the numbers business in The Bahamas.
What is a matter of record, and what Dames can verify from the records of the House of Assembly, is exactly what the former prime minister had to say about the numbers business in The Bahamas. As I recall it, speaking on the floor of the House of Assembly, Ingraham said that if the police could not enforce the law which prohibited the unlawful sale of numbers in The Bahamas, the government would have to do something about regulating the business.
I believe it was after that time that the police successfully prosecuted and won a conviction against a numbers boss in the courts. Aside from this reality and fact, Dames now seeks to convince the Bahamian public that the police delivered a report to the FNM government saying that they could not stop the numbers men under the existing laws. What a contradiction!
Subsequent to his first remarks on the illegal sale of numbers on the floor of the House of Assembly, Ingraham returned to the subject and advised that having met with a number of church leaders, and most particularly with Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd, his government had determined not to proceed with any proposal to regularize numbers in The Bahamas. He further advised that if returned to office following the 2012 general elections, his government would seek the views of the Bahamian electorate prior to moving to regulate numbers in The Bahamas. Ingraham came to office committed to government in the sunshine with an unwavering dedication to transparency and accountability.
Dames appears to want to suggest that Ingraham met with the numbers men behind closed doors. The former prime minister does not go that way and I believe that Dames knows that. He did not meet with any numbers man and he has said as much on more than one occasion before and since the last general election.
The numbers men have been and are reportedly in continuing consultation and negotiations with the present PLP government. They began their consultations before the elections when the PLP were still in opposition.
What is clear from information available to the public is that the last FNM government considered and determined not to proceed with regularizing and taxing the numbers business largely because of the position of church leaders.
What is also clear is that under existing law, the police can and have arrested and successfully prosecuted and convicted individuals illegally engaged in the sale of numbers in The Bahamas.
I have noticed a slant in Dames' reporting and opinion pieces over the past year that all seem meant to provoke some commentary by the former prime minister, drawing him back into national discourse.
Ingraham is reputed to be a great fisherman. I suspect he understands that Dames is seeking to 'chum the waters' hoping to provoke a response from him and hence create news. I see though that the former prime minister has studiously refused to take her bait. I can just imagine his hearty laugh as he read this most recent ridiculously transparent effort to embroil him.
- Godfrey Cooper
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
THE Rev Dr McPhee has received a $50,000 gift to help sail his Thunderbird boats through the 2011 season.
Yesterday, the cheque presentation took place at Compass Point where McPhee thanked Asue Draw's marketing manager Levin Wilson for his company's continued assistance.
"As you are well aware, sloop sailing is a very expensive sport. In order for boats to be able to participate in over 12 regattas per year, it takes corporate companies who are interested and concerned to make those things happen," McPhee stated.
Last year, McPhee said the Asue Company expended over $100,000 in the sailing community as the ...
Saturday 23rd April 2011
Featuring: Waka Flocka & Vybz Kartel Also featuring other artists Music by: Nassau's Hottest DJs Tickets: $50, VIP; $80, Platinum; $200, Backstage/All Access (All students with ID get $10 off pre-sold tickets) Where: Carnival Site, Queen Elizabeth Centre Tickets can be purchased from Airbrush Junkies, Stilletos, Asue Draw, Urban Ragz & Hammerheads Bar & Grill For more information, contact 242-394-3260
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson indicated yesterday that the crown was not yet in a position to properly prepare its case in response to a group of web shop owners who received an injunction preventing the government from shutting down their operations.
Senior Supreme Court Justice Jon Isaacs granted the injunction pending the outcome of the substantive matter on the legality of web shops.
Attorneys Wayne Munroe and Alfred Sears, a former attorney general, obtained the injunction on behalf of Island Luck, Island Game, Whatfall, FML Group of Companies, Asue Draw, Paradise Games and Chances.
On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Perry Christie announced a shutdown of web shop gaming after voters voted overwhelmingly on Monday against it.
"The status quo remains, so whatever you did yesterday you're able to do today," said Maynard-Gibson when asked about the injunction.
"The referendum and the way that it was held was demonstrative of a very strong democracy.
"The fact that people can go before the courts and feel that their voices can be heard and respect the outcome of a court action is also something we should celebrate as a country.
"I celebrate the fact that we have fair courts that everybody trusts and relies upon."
The matter will be sent to Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett who will either hear it or assign it to another judge.
"We should also say that there were no papers filed before the court, so the other side has articulated their case but they haven't put it in writing yet," Maynard-Gibson said.
"So once the chief justice and we are also are able to read the papers we'll be able to make a better assessment as to what is the way forward."
FML Group of Companies CEO Craig Flowers said last week that if directed by the government he would be the first to close his web shops and send his staff of nearly 400 home with full benefits.
Island Luck CEO Sebas Bastian said Tuesday night he would also follow the prime minister's directive.
With the injunction now secured, the operators can continue operating without any fear that police will shut them down.
It is unclear when the matter will be concluded before the courts.
A group of web shop owners has abandoned an appeal of Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett's refusal to grant an injunction in their case.
The injunction would have guaranteed their protection from police interference until a substantive case is heard.
Attorney Wayne Munroe, who represents the group, said he could not "credibly" make a case to the Court of Appeal that there is a need for an injunction ahead of the substantive case.
Attorney Alfred Sears, who represents Paradise Games, has also confirmed to The Nassau Guardian that his client's appeal has been abandoned.
Sears said by focusing on the substantive case the trial can move ahead as quickly as possible.
The attorneys were expected to appear before the Court of Appeal today.
"We have been instructed to concentrate our time and our efforts on the substantive litigation," Munroe said in a statement.
"We have also been instructed to be vigilant with regard [to] any proposed legislation that might affect our clients' interests and the litigation.
"In our considered opinion, which is shared by our clients, the conduct of the litigation and the actions of the parties directly involved have demonstrated many laudable ideals, virtues and actions."
A date has not been set for the substantive case.
The attorneys secured a conservatory order on January 30, two days after a gambling referendum failed.
Sir Michael lifted the conservatory order, which prevented web shops from being subjected to police
Sir Michael then denied the attorneys' application for an injunction on April 9, and refused a stay pending an appeal.
Munroe and Sears filed an appeal for an application of stay on the same day.
"At the application for the stay we argued issues related to complaints we had with regard to the learned chief justice's ruling," Munroe said in the statement issued yesterday.
"I conceded on direct and pointed questioning from the bench that the commissioner of police had indicated that he would act properly.
"And that the honorable attorney general and Mr. Loren Klein on her behalf had always indicated that the executive would act properly and respect the court's process.
"The stated fear was that mischief makers may succeed in persuading the commissioner of police or the political directorate to act improperly."
In the weeks after the refusal of the stay, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade warned web shop gamblers to "obey the law" and stop gambling as police can turn up at "any time" to make arrests.
Police went out in force last Monday searching several web shops in the East Bay Street area, and closed Paradise Games for reported breach of the Business License Act.
However, no one was arrested for illegal gaming activity nor were any assets seized from any web shop during the police operation.
Greenslade recently pledged more covert operations.
Munroe said the behavior of the officers during the operation was proper and even handed, though they caused an inconvenience to his clients' businesses.
He made a similar statement recently, where he noted that there was nothing to fear about police usurping the powers of the court and not abiding by the outcome of the substantive case based on their actions.
The attorneys have contended that their clients are carrying on legal businesses, Internet cafes that entitle members unrestricted access to Internet sites.
Munroe said yesterday that the judiciary and executive have demonstrated a clear separation of powers, and have exercised their powers appropriately.
He also said Greenslade has demonstrated "true independence".
Sears added that the substantive case is at the infancy stage, and while the attorneys have filed statements of claim, the attorney general must file a defense before the matter goes to a full trial.
Munroe represents Percy Web Cafe, Island Luck, FML Group of Companies, Asue Draw, Whatfall and Chances.
A webshop employee is the latest murder victim of the year after being shot multiple times in the face at the corporate offices of Asue Draw on East Bay Street.