August 26, 2013
Changes in gaming laws in The Bahamas could help "smooth out some of the seasonality" associated with tourism in this country, allowing resorts and the government to draw in revenue to continue to support their operations during traditionally slow periods, according to Baha Mar's top legal counsel.
Outdated gaming laws in The Bahamas, which have not kept pace with a technological revolution in the sector, prohibits the country from taking its rightful place in the global tourism market, according to Uri Clinton, senior vice president, general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer at the Cable Beach resort.
Clinton will be a plenary speaker at The College of The Bahamas Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute Conference on "Shrinking The Global Divide: Synergy, Service and Sustainability".
The conference is scheduled for September 18-20 at Atlantis, Paradise Island.
According to Clinton, a modern regulatory gaming regime is key in securing a fair share in the international market and allowing operators to compete on a level playing field.
"One way that you differentiate yourself from the global competition is to understand what types of gaming products and best practices will appeal to your market segment. Understand who the market is and what they look for in a casino; and then we should write regulations that not only properly support the oversight of gaming operations from a regulatory perspective, but also allow the operator the flexibility to provide gaming products, which the market is looking for," said Clinton.
Prime Minister Perry Christie has conceded that a revised legislative regime is needed to regulate the casino sector. He has committed to updating gaming legislation in the upcoming legislative period.
Clinton anticipates that with the advent of online gaming will come new robust revenue streams for the country that will allow a casino operator to "smooth out some of the seasonality" associated with the gaming business.
"During the hurricane season, when nobody wants to travel to The Bahamas, we still have thousands of employees to support, we still have hundreds of local vendors and contractors to pay, and the online revenue allows us to continue full functionality, as well as it allows the Bahamian government - for those online systems whose servers are based in The Bahamas - to continue to generate tax revenue, even as people are not here using the resources," he said.
He also asserted that cultivating a "healthy" gaming product is a driver of tourism.
"In-play sports betting is not available on the east coast, not available in Florida. So, people in Florida can take a 30-minute flight to come and bet on the Super Bowl, and to do so in a way that is legal, in a way that incorporates the tax advantages from The Bahamas, and in a way that provides them with an entertainment option that they could not get in their home jurisdiction, and that is one of the reasons why it is so critical that we actually get this new legislation passed," said the hotel executive.
When Clinton addresses the international gathering of delegates, who will attend the conference in September, he will give a global perspective on the security, regulations and operations of the gaming industry.
As a corporate gaming attorney, Clinton established the Central Division legal department for Caesars Entertainment, Inc., which was responsible for providing legal support for 11 casinos located across four jurisdictions generating over $1.3 billion in gaming revenue and established the first legal and regulatory/technical compliance departments for Multimedia Games Inc. and Baha Mar Ltd.
He is also the legal and business development representative for gaming operators and manufacturers in various jurisdictions across North America, Central America, Macau, Singapore and the Caribbean.
Other speakers scheduled to address the conference are: Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, former Bahamas minister of tourism and secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization; Dionisio D'Aguilar, president, Superwash Limited and keynote speaker; Patrick McCudden, senior vice president, real estate and development, Latin America, Hyatt.
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