Bahamas Government to introduce legislation allowing residents to gamble in casinos

The Bahamian government is debating whether to change the law that prohibits residents of The Bahamas from gambling in casinos, according to Gaming Board Chairman Dr. Daniel Johnson. Johnson labeled it as “unfair” for the sector to discriminate against residents, and that legislation will be introduced over the next few months to address this issue.

Although casino gaming is legal for non-residents aged 18 and over, the Lotteries and Gaming Act currently prohibits work permit holders (non-Bahamians), permanent residents (non-Bahamians), ordinary residents of The Bahamas (Bahamian nationals), and their spouses from gambling in casinos.

Johnson believes that this law needs to change to bring the country’s gaming sector “into the 21st century”, as reported by Eyewitness News, and to allow its citizens to have a choice as to what they wish to do and where they want to do it. Johnson further noted that the country’s gaming laws also need to be modernized to ensure that they are relevant and effective for the 21st century.

The gaming board chairman said that gaming is an “integral” part of The Bahamas’ tourism offering and that it needs to incorporate entertainment in a model similar to Las Vegas if it is to reach its full potential.

According to Johnson, there are currently seven licenses available for land-based casinos, but only six are taken. He revealed that there are two licenses that he would like to see turned on, in Exuma and Grand Bahama, and that the proposed new legislation would be shared with local and international stakeholders.

Johnson emphasized that the government wants to create a regime that facilitates growth and prosperity while protecting its citizens. He said: “Our people don’t need policing. They need to prosper, and that’s the balancing act we have to go with.”

We have to reimagine and reengineer our entertainment brand and the gaming world has the capacity to do that. We are looking at bringing the gaming industry along with entertainment and that would take our brand up another notch,” Johnson said, as per the cited source.