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The new Gaming Bill would allow people outside The Bahamas to gamble on a website established, maintained and operated by the holder of a local gaming license.
But they must be in a country or jurisdiction that permits online gaming.
The bill would also allow work permit holders and permanent residents to gamble in The Bahamas.
The controversial bill is likely to be tabled in the House of Assembly next week Wednesday, according to Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, who said Cabinet will review it tomorrow.
The bill would allow local casinos to offer mobile and Internet gaming to their clients.
One of the most controversial aspects of the proposed draft is that it prohibits only Bahamian citizens from gambling.
The decision to lift the current ban on work permit holders and permanent residents is an adoption of a proposal presented to the government by industry stakeholders -- that is, current holders of gaming licenses.
The stakeholders have asked the government to "allow permanent residents, holders of short- and long-term work visas to participate in casino gaming, subject to payment of an appropriate levy to the government".
The industry stakeholders' "Guide to modernization of casino regulations in The Bahamas" says "allowing wealthy permanent residents to gamble locally would keep gaming taxes in the country".
The document says the public's interest would be protected with significant controls.
It notes that in Singapore, residents must buy a daily pass for US$100 or yearly pass for $2,000 for casino entry, limiting access to those with financial means.
Wilchcombe, the minister responsible for gaming, said yesterday, "We haven't yet signed off on what we are taking to Parliament."
He said the government understands that the law must be "equitable".
"Some will ask 'does it mean my gardener can go into the casino and I can't?' We have to make sure it's done in a way that it is equitable, so even if we decide [to allow it], it may not be done tomorrow. Matters are still being discussed," Wilchcombe noted.
He said any move to lift the prohibition against Bahamians being allowed to gamble in casinos must be carefully considered as it has social and economic implications.
"In lifting the prohibition, how will it impact the economy? How will it impact the domestic environment? The third thing is the strength of the economy," Wilchcombe said.
"Can our economy withstand any shock if Bahamians decide in large numbers that they want to be in casinos?"
As it stands now, the government has no plans to lift the prohibition on Bahamians gambling in casinos.
Wilchcombe noted that while Bahamians are prohibited from gambling in casinos, the law does not stop them from applying and receiving casino licenses.
"Why cant a group of Bahamians apply for a casino license?" he asked.
"Nothing stops Bahamians from owning casinos and jumping into the industry. That's where they ought to be thinking now. How can we pool our resources?"
The new Gaming Act would provide for several different classes of licenses; among them, gaming, proxy gaming, restricted interactive gaming and junket operator licenses.
In the case of a gaming license, a company must have proven expertise in the management and operation of casinos in a regulated environment, or demonstrable access to such expertise.
The company must also be of good financial standing and have adequate means to undertake and sustain the activity for which the license is required.
A proxy gaming license would allow the operator to conduct gaming using any communications technology, including over the Internet.
A restricted interactive gaming license would allow for people outside The Bahamas to gamble via a website established by the holder of a local gaming license.
And the junket operator license would facilitate visits to casino resorts of 20 or more "junket visitors" -- that is, visitors on an excursion to a casino resort.
Wilchcombe said before it is brought to the House there will be a special briefing for members of Parliament and another briefing for the press.
Fash|Art 2012 visual art award winner Attila Feszt opened "Life on my island", original patterns and paintings inspired by life in the islands, to warm reviews in an intimate showing Thursday evening at Doongalik Studios Art Gallery on Village Road.
Though he has been an avid illustrator all his life, Feszt just recently - within the last six years - got back into his art work, which includes various forms of media, including pen and ink illustration, painting, screen printing and graphic design work. He also is a huge fan of comic book art, which marries well with his passion for pattern designs.
Feszt, who has a Bachelor of Arts in History of Art and Design from Manchester Metropolitan University, said he was tentative for a while before taking the plunge into showing his artwork.
"In a way, I wasn't sure what I wanted to show," Feszt told Guardian Arts&Culture. "So starting, doing the patterns and working with paintings inspired by that, I started to figure it out a little bit more [and realized that] the meaning will come. The main thing is to just do it.
"Actually, I remember a few years ago talking to A.J. Watson (I spoke to him when I first started doing my printed stuff and had very much liked that graffiti stencil art style)... He said, 'Mate you just gotta do it. You just have to get it out there and do it'.
"For me, being a part of things and getting the exposure and being able to talk to people and knowing that people like what you're doing is a huge motivator and also winning this award and having this show was huge.
"It was pivotal for me, [and] some of the worry of whether people like it, it kind of stopped because I realized what I'm doing people like and people see something in it. So at that point, it's just about doing it without any of the questioning. You have the freedom to just do what you've been doing all along and to just focus on that without wondering what's gonna happen."
The name of the exhibition, "Life on my island", is also the name of his first pattern design, which features a manta ray and shells. Since that design, he has created a cohesive collection of artwork, as well as business cards and a website, which all incorporate his screen printing designs.
Feszt, who works as a designer at a screen printing company in Hope Town, Abaco, won the Fash|Art 2012 Jackson Burnside III Visual Artist Award in November.
"It's actually a big thing as well, having an award named after Jackson Burnside. So that was very special," Feszt says.
"[The show is] getting me thinking about other work I want to do. It's getting me thinking about what I'm trying to do with it, and I want it to lead me to other places, other styles of art or design or using other media.
"And for me it's not just about doing the work and becoming a success. I mean that would be nice, or will be nice, but it's about using it as a vehicle to explore new things and refine what I'm doing, the type of work I'm doing and get better at what I'm doing and that's what it's all about."
He is also looking forward to participating in more events in New Providence and is planning to come out with a line of clothing and bags with his screen prints on them, using his Maeter Design brand.
Doongalik Studios owner and Jackson's widow Pam Burnside expressed how important the studio's link with Fash|Art has been and the impact the visual arts award has had on the late artist's legacy.
"Being involved with Fash|Art is good because it's another way of extending Jackson's legacy through this award," Burnside told Guardian Arts&Culture.
"Jackson was very conscious of the next generation. He was always teaching, and he always wanted to be able to encourage the younger artists to move forward. There are just so many opportunities now as opposed to when he was an [emerging] artist that he was very giving and very enthusiastic to help and to get on.
"So this is our way of giving to the next generation and keeping up with the times... It's such an organic field, you have to open up your mind and be willing to talk to the students. And that's why he enjoyed talking to [College of The Bahamas] students because he was able to see how they were thinking and then be able to move with them.
"[Feszt] is the second winner who will be showing at Doogalik, and we are very excited about it."
o "Life on my island", original patterns and paintings by Fash|Art 2012 Jackson Burnside III Visual Artist Competition Winner Attila Feszt, can be viewed at Doongalik Studios Art Gallery. For more information, visit http://www.doongalik.com/.
Sexual harassment, taken literally, is harassment or unwanted attention of a sexual nature. It includes a range of behavior from mild annoyances to serious abuse, which can even involve forced sexual activity. Sexual harassment is considered to be illegal in many countries and is a form of abuse. It is also considered to be a form of bullying.
Jerry was the new office worker. He worked in the sales department. He was married with two children. His employer introduced him to all the employees and showed him where his desk was and allowed him to get to work. After two months of working on the job, Jerry went to his immediate supervisor to report to that two of his co-workers were making him uncomfortable on the job. The supervisor, a man named Bill, asked Jerry what he was talking about. Jerry explained how both a male and female employee would constantly pass his desk and touch his hair when they were saying good morning. Jerry had asked both of them to stop, but they continued to do it. Bill after hearing Jerry's story told him that they were just being friendly and to ignore it.
Sexual harassment can occur in any environment. Sexual harassment does not only occur in the workplace but also happens at social gatherings, in public areas such as at bus stops, in the street and in clubs, in schools and colleges. Sexual harassment happens to men as well as women.
The offense occurs when a person assaults another in a manner which grossly offends public morality -- e.g. touching breasts or other parts of the body, unwelcome kissing, etc. Actual touching may not be involved. Rude or suggestive language can also be considered sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment in the work place happens to men as well as women. It is a criminal offense for an employer to seek any form of sexual favor as a condition for hiring a person. It is also an offense to threaten dismissal if the sexual favor is not granted. The law works both ways - it is an offense to offer sexual inducement in return for benefit at work. Sexual harassment also occurs in schools and colleges.
Everyone has a right to feel safe and comfortable in the workplace, at school or in whatever environment they are.
Who is the harasser?
o The harasser can be anyone -- boss, supervisor, client, co-worker, teacher, student, friend or stranger.
o The victim can be male or female. The harasser can be male or female (The harasser does not have to be of the opposite sex).
o The harasser may be completely unaware that his or her behavior is offensive or constitutes sexual harassment or that his or her actions could be illegal.
How sexual harassment affects the victim
Psychological and health effects that can occur in someone who has been sexually harassed include anxiety and/or depression, sleeplessness, shame and guilt, difficulty concentrating, headaches, lack of motivation, lack of appetite or comfort eating (weight loss or gain), feeling let down or violated, feeling angry or violent towards the perpetrator, feeling powerless or out of control, loss of confidence and self-esteem, withdrawal and loss of trust in people and colleagues and even suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.
Why people do not report sexual harassment
Many incidents of sexual harassment occur in the workplace and some victims are afraid they will lose their jobs if they report the matter. They also feel that others might place the blame on them if they make a report, or that they will be accused of coming on to the perpetrator. They may also feel that nothing will be done about the harassment.
If it is a friend of the family or relative, there may be a fear that the victim will not be believed.
Many times because behaviors that are practiced or accepted as social behavior, individuals may not always understand that their behavior is offensive and a form of sexual harassment.
Examples of sexual harassment
o Spreading sexual rumors.
o Repeatedly asking out someone who has said no.
o Questioning or commenting on someone's sexuality.
o Telling sexually offensive jokes.
o Displaying sexual pictures.
o Making comments about someone's clothing or body.
o Making rude gestures or noises.
o Touching or rubbing against a person;
o Pressuring someone for a date.
o Giving suggestive looks.
Anyone experiencing sexual harassment can:
o Firmly tell the harasser that the behavior is not acceptable.
o Report the incident to someone in authority.
o Report the matter to the police.
Remember, sexual harassment is not acceptable and you should not have to endure unwanted advances from anyone.
We are one people created equal by God and for the purpose of loving and being loved. Let us work together to heal ourselves, families, communities, nation and world.
o If you would like to talk to someone about sexual harassment, please call 328-0922 or for more information, check out our website at www.bahamascrisiscentre.org.
Following a protest by the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) yesterday, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Philip Brave Davis dismissed claims that he and PLP Leader Perry Christie may be involved in a conflict of interest because of legal advice they are giving to Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC).
Davis's law firm, Davis & Co., represents BPC, which is seeking the government's permission to drill for oil in Bahamian waters. Christie has acknowledged that the company has benefited from advice he gave as a consultant for the law firm.
The Christie administration would have to consider how to proceed on the issue of oil drilling if the PLP is elected on May 7.
"How does it become a conflict? I'm not in government," said Davis, despite the fact that he is running in the 2012 general election.
"That's different when I'm there, then the question might arise, and then I'll know what I have to do."
Members of the DNA protested outside the Office of the Leader of the Opposition on Parliament Street, demanding that Christie stepped down as leader of his party and bow out of the 2012 election.
"If it were not for Mr. Ben Albury (DNA candidate for Montagu) forcing this issue to the public, we would not be standing here today with clear, incontrovertible proof that Mr. Christie has been working for the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC)," said DNA Deputy Leader Christopher Mortimer.
Albury has held several press conferences and appeared on radio talk shows demanding the government come clean on its position on oil drilling.
The issue grabbed headlines after Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said Christie is a consultant for BPC.
However, Christie has said he is a consultant for Davis & Co.
BPC's website also lists PLP candidate for Killarney Jerome Gomez as its resident manager.
Christie would not say definitively if his party would allow any company to drill for oil if it wins the next election. He said that decision would depend on environmental studies presented to the government on the issue.
"Mr. Christie is the one who said he admits to being a consultant," Albury said.
"Well I want to know how this deal is great for Bahamians. How is this deal great for the leader of the opposition to be in bed with them?"
Albury also hit at Ingraham for revealing Christie's involvement so close to a general election.
"I think that Mr. Ingraham now wants to come out like he's a saint and act like he has nothing to do with where we are right now," Albury said.
"The fact remains that he's had the last five years to make mention of it or to make a decision as to what we're going to do or what we're not going to do.
"...I don't think they're looking out for the best interests of Bahamians."
Albury said that if no one had said anything the whole incident "would have slipped right under the rug".
Grand Bahama, The Bahamas - You can look forward to a memorable mix of historic charm, modern
attractions and ecological wonders on your visit to Grand Bahama Island.
There's truly something for everyone. The warm welcome you'll receive
is just extra insurance that you'll return again and again.
Check out this video produced for Bahamas.com, the Ministry of Tourism's website.
this video you will hear from taxi driver, Paddy Wildgoose; Wellington
Clarke of Grand Bahama Nature Tours; Linda Osbourne of UNEXSO; tour
operator Patricia 'Smilin Pat' Hoyte; and Greg Vincent of H20
Jason McDowall, CEO and
President of BahamasLocal.com, recently joined a delegation of board
members and marketing professionals from top companies around the world
for a series of meetings and networking opportunities in Dublin, Ireland
- the home to international and European headquarters for innovators
such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo!, Apple, PayPal, Cisco Systems
The group was hosted at the
five-star Merrion Hotel, sharing the same street as numerous
governmental and cultural institutions and just a short walk away from
the "golden mile" - a mile-long strip of pubs...
With the recent letter sent out to second homeowners on Eleuthera, an old debate has been given new life.
There are those who don't want to "offend" the second homeowners who are seen to bring money to the islands in the form of tourism, but this hotel guest tax is passed on to the guest, which is then passed on to our community.
The amount of rooms now available for rent via the second homeowner market far exceeds the number of actual hotel rooms on the island and as such, those rooms should be seen as a "hotel" in itself.
For far too long, second homeowners have not been licensed and not paid hotel guest tax as required by law. Some of them have been told by website owners that they don't have to pay it "because they will never get caught"or the "Bahamian government will never get it together enough to enforce the law."
As we are staring down the face of VAT, it is time to take control and enforce the laws that we already have. We are leaving so much money on the table right now, and it is time to wake up. It is important for the community and it is the law.
Back to the topic of second home rentals, a few non-Bahamians set up websites and convinced homeowners to list their properties on Eleuthera. Although this is illegal, according to Bahamian law, these extremely successful operations have flourished because no local person has had the wherewithal to create a competitor and our government, whether by inattentiveness or by design, looked the other way.
According to several sources, one site is generating in excess of $300,000 [a] month in rental income, netting its operator $30,000 in commission per month. The fine alone for the properties listed on one website amounts to $7.9 million for just the year 2013. There needs to be accountability both on the part of the government, the homeowners and the locals. The time for blaming others has to end. This is no one's fault and everyone's fault.
The law since 2009 states that any property that rents out one bedroom or more must be licensed and must pay hotel guest tax. This tax is 10 percent and is passed onto the guest and then forwarded to the government at the end of the month.
The form is extremely simple to fill out and many people pay their hotel taxes in cash at the administrator's office. The more difficult part is getting licensed. In order to be licensed, the home will need to be inspected, and many second homes that are in the rental pool will not pass that inspection.
Sure, the homes that rent out for $15,000 [a] week will probably pass inspection but those that rent for less might have deferred maintenance, which will preclude passing the inspection. Does every room have a smoke detector? Do you have fire extinguishers (inspected and tagged) by each stove? Do you have a pest control contract? Do you have reliable power and clean water? Do your air conditioners work? Do you have doors that lock? Do you have either phone or Internet that is on? Those are just some of the things that homeowners will need to comply with to get licensed and I venture to guess that many will not pass.
Having homes inspected will ensure that many of the guest complaints will cease because most of them have to do with cleanliness, lack of water, AC, power and lack of security. We have all heard about the filthy homes, robberies, lack of clean water and lack of guest services at rental homes. This is not just a problem of the homeowners and their renters, this problem affects all of us.
The money collected from hotel guest taxes is shared between the local government and Nassau, 50/50. The estimated amount of guest tax not collected from rentals since the beginning of 2013 is over $100,000. Sure, it is probably a lot more, but do you think that our settlement could use $50,000?
The claim that the online rental service providers have increased tourism to our island is false, according to United Airlines, American Airlines, Ministry of Tourism and Expedia. The guests are simply being diverted from local hotels and inns to rental homes.
Again, it is illegal for non-Bahamians to transact any real estate business, whether they are in the United States or any other country. The homeowners who list their properties for rent with anyone who is not Bahamian are breaking the law. Some of the website owners try to subvert the law by using a Bahamian shill and some don't even do that, going so far as to boast that the Bahamian government will do nothing to stop them.
This is a problem for all of us. If you own a home and receive rental income, you need to be licensed and registered and you need to pay hotel guest tax. Period.If you have a child who is being educated in one of our schools, you are affected by the lack of money going back into our community. If you are a non-Bahamian website owner, you are in violation of Bahamian law and you have misrepresented yourself to your clients.
I have heard from many homeowners that they were told not to register and not to pay hotel guest tax because the government wouldn't do anything about it. Whoever has said that should be ashamed and should be held accountable.
The hotel guest tax is just another piece of the puzzle. Are we going to protect and care for our country or are we going to rape her and destroy her for today's gains?
If you are buying crawfish out of season, if you are doing shoddy work, if you are not caring for an animal, if you are charging someone too much, if you are being rude to tourists and if you are looking the other way while your neighbor takes a "payment", you are part of the problem.
Are we a nation of talkers or doers? All of these things take care and action on our part. The problem is not only the homeowners, the problem is all of us for being too lazy to enforce the law and for allowing there to be a hole in the market that needs to be filled.
Any Bahamian could do the same thing that the website owners are doing, but will we do the work or will we sit back and blame others for our lack of prosperity? -- Concerned Citizens
The Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) recently hosted a luncheon for sports leaders. This luncheon was part of a leadership seminar that was led by Performance Consultant Lester R. Cox. The event focused on results through motivation, productivity and personal excellence. In attendance were members of the basketball federation including its secretary general Clifford Rahming.
During the luncheon, D'Arcy Rahming, BOC treasurer, unveiled the BOC's scholarship program that allows family members to honor local heroes who may not have received the proper recognition. "The idea grew out of my own experience with my father, who loved sports especially basketball and loved young people," said Rahming. "This Olympic scholarship gives my father's contributions the ability to live beyond him, as well as to help a young athlete."
Following the first executive meeting, the BOC adopted the scholarship idea as one of its many fundraisers.
"There are many basketball players who never got their due," said Sharon Storr, assistant secretary of the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF), who sat next to the BOC treasurer at the luncheon. "What is amazing to me is Rahming's father, David 'Porky' Rahming, helped me with my shooting game many years ago at SAC. There are many untold stories that need to be told."
The scholarship program is affordable for any family as it can be secured for $600 per year and the donation can be done monthly for as little as $50 per month. Proceeds from the scholarship go toward elite level athletes as well as grassroot athletes. Persons who sponsor the scholarships are given certificates that they can put in their homes or business places as well as a page on the Bahamas Olympic Committee's website, plus various other benefits like VIP tickets to current events.
Persons can choose the discipline of their choice from any of the Olympic sports practiced in The Bahamas. It began with judo, but has now been expanded to all disciplines.
Minister of Labour and National Insurance Shane Gibson said yesterday he voted yes in the January 28 gambling referendum and thinks Bahamians should have the right to gamble legally if they choose to.
Gibson made his comments while a guest on the Guardian Radio talk show "Darold Miller Live".
"Of course I voted yes," he said. "People should have choices."
He said he was "disappointed" in the outcome of the referendum because Bahamians voted to uphold discrimination against themselves.
That referendum asked voters if they supported the regulation and taxation of web shops and the creation of a national lottery.
The question of whether Bahamians should be permitted to gamble in casinos was not on the ballot, however.
"I'm not going to go in the casino, shoot dice all night trying to win," Gibson said.
"I'm not going to play Black Jack. I'm not going to pull a slot machine handle trying to win money, and I'm not going to buy numbers.
"That's not me, but what I'm saying is I was disappointed that Bahamians themselves voted to have Bahamians discriminated against when they had an opportunity to say yes to gambling.
"I don't do it, but I believe in freedom of choices. There are some things you can't legislate."
When asked if he thought the government handled the failed referendum poorly, Gibson said, "Hindsight is 20/20," but stressed that Bahamians had the power to make a change with their votes earlier this year.
He said he did not understand the recent uproar over a draft Gaming Bill.
The majority of people who voted in the referendum voted no to both questions. However, less than 50 percent of the electorate voted.
"People had a chance in January to do what they are saying they want to do now," Gibson said.
"They are saying that now, but they had an opportunity; you don't have to worry about the process."
Gibson also said he had not seen the controversial draft Gaming Bill.
The Nassau Guardian revealed that the proposed legislation would allow people outside The Bahamas to gamble on a website established, maintained and operated by the holder of a local gaming license.
But they must be in a country or jurisdiction that permits online gaming.
The bill would also allow work permit holders and permanent residents to gamble in The Bahamas.
The prohibition against Bahamians gambling would continue.
Last week, Free National Movement Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said he thinks Bahamians should be allowed to gamble in local casinos.
"In terms of [whether] Bahamians should be in casinos, I feel yes, but that is my personal view."
He added: "Whatever is done you should ensure fair play to the Bahamian populace, and you should ensure that you truly believe in Bahamians.
"That is the most important thing."
Minnis had urged Bahamians to vote no in the gambling referendum, criticizing the process.