Atlantis Backtracks on Casino Gambling For Bahamians

Tuesday 31st, July 2012 / 08:56 Published by

Less than two weeks ago, George Markantonis, president and managing director of Kerzner International Bahamas, said he would welcome Bahamians gambling in the casinos at Atlantis.

“We’d be delighted if there was a method to allow locals to participate in games of chance in the casinos,” Markantonis said.

Now, however, the situation seems to be changing as government pressure has allegedly been put on the company to backtrack those statements.

Ed Fields, Kerzner International senior vice president, is now saying that Bahamians should focus on liberalising the “numbers business” first before attempting to addressing the issue of casino gambling.

While he noted it was also an “overdue” issue, Mr Fields said he sided with Baha Mar vice president Robert Sands that casino gambling should not be rushed.

The contentious debate over whether or not the country should liberalize “web shop” gaming and establish a national lottery has stormed since it was announced that the longstanding issue would be put to a referendum before the end of the year.

There has also been criticism of the scope of the proposed referendum, with former prime minister Hubert Ingraham stating that the referendum should address gaming in its entirety.

The Bahamas Christian Council has accused the government of rushing a gambling referendum, while some local pastors have called for all gambling participation – including the participation of tourists in casinos – to be outlawed.

The Christie administration has decided to put the issue of gambling before women’s rights, job creation, crime and other social ills, allegedly to “pay back” the numbers kingpins who contributed so heavily to the PLP election campaign.

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