Gaming Board Chairman Dr. Daniel Johnson revealed that the Bahamas Government mulls over amending the existing gambling law to allow Bahamians to participate in gambling activities in casinos. Speaking on the sidelines of the 3rd Caribbean Regulator’s Forum & 10th Caribbean Gaming Show at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, Johnson said that the country should not discriminate against its people, and new legislation to address the issue will be launched in the coming months.
The Bahamas Has to Update Its Gambling Laws
The Bahamas government is looking to introduce changes to the gambling law. Under the country’s current legislative framework, Bahamians are prohibited from gambling in local casinos. But according to Gaming Board Chairman Dr. Daniel Johnson, the law discriminates against people who live in the country.
During the 3rd Caribbean Regulator’s Forum & 10th Caribbean Gaming Show at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, Mr. Johnson explained that the country has to modernize its gambling regulations and allow locals to play casino games for real money. He said that people must have the opportunity to choose what they want to do. Mr. Johnson also said that some people can go to certain places and do things that others cannot. He also noted that the country should not police morality.
According to Mr. Johnson, people want to have the choice to do things. He said that Bahamians do not need the country to police morality but establish conditions for them to prosper. Johnson explained that the new legislation will be discussed with local and international stakeholders. He added that the new rules will focus on protecting Bahamians.
Johnson explained that gaming is part of the country’s tourism offerings, and updating the gambling laws is of major importance. He revealed there are seven licenses for local operators in the Bahamas, and six have already been taken.
What is the Current Gambling Landscape in the Bahamas?
Gambling in the Bahamas is legal for non-Bahamians over 18 years old. Under section 50 of the Lotteries and Gaming Act, non-Bahamians with a work permit, permanent residents of the Bahamas, ordinary Bahamian residents, and the spouses of these persons are not allowed to participate in gambling activities.
But Bahamians who reside abroad and are not married to a person who is prohibited from playing at local casinos can legally gamble in the local casinos because the prohibition is based on residency and not nationality. This means that gambling in local casinos is legal for some Bahamians and not for others.
Gambling is an important source of revenue for the country. From January to September 2021, the Bahamian casino industry generated over $130 million in revenue. Last year, the Bahamian government even urged Grand Bahama to build more casinos in the country.