Wednesday, August 9, 2017
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A leading web shop operator said yesterday the Minnis administration has a great opportunity to ‘right the ship’ and set a new way forward for the Bahamas gaming industry.
Craig Flowers, founder of the FML Group of companies, told Tribune Business he believes whatever path is taken it should correct the fact the gaming industry was underpaying ‘by leaps and bounds’ considering the impact on the moral and ethical fabric of society.
Mr Flowers said that while he has taken a back seat from the day-to-day operations of the business, he would welcome the opportunity to share his thoughts with the Minnis administration on the way forward for the industry.
“I have always said that there is a lot to be done to tailor as well as clean up the regulatory process. I have a lot of ambition and would like to see a lot of things done. I’m certain that the new administration will review the entire package and come up with recommendations of their own on the way forward,” said Mr Flowers.
“I certainly do not have the answers but I would like to be a part of the discussion. I have seen this industry go through successive administrations. This has been a long journey for me but my view as to the future of this industry certainly differs from that of the former administration.”
Gaming Board Chairman Kenyatta Gibson has said all aspects of the gaming industry were on the table for review, inclusive of casino gaming, the gaming houses and the possibility of a national lottery in order to provide policy recommendations to the government.
Mr Flowers said: “It’s a wild wild west out there. In the context of the regulations, the precedent needs to be set by the government. When you look at the issue of gaming houses and their proximity to schools and churches, none of these things have been enforced, none of it. You have stores opening up in the same yard as churches.
“The government needs to set the precedent and not leave it up to the operators. Honestly, I feel completely betrayed when I think about the fact that the initial intent was to regulate the industry and the nob appears to have turned the other way. The intent was not to regulate the industry so that operators could go berserk. It’s not all about money and jobs. I think that we are underpaying by leaps and bounds considering the impact on the moral and ethical fabric of the country. You can’t just look at a few few dollars in taxes and some jobs while having a complete disregard for values. The thing is, however, that governments live and die by the sword of jobs and taxes.”