NASSAU, Bahamas -- Mega-resort Baha Mar has applauded the Parliament of The Bahamas for tabling a sweeping revitalization of the country's gaming regulations, the first such major update since Bahamian casinos were legalized in 1969.
The regulatory changes would allow Bahamian casinos to offer international travelers the latest gaming-industry amenities, including Internet, interactive and mobile gaming; in-play sports betting; and proxy wagering.
The new regulations would help to expand The Bahamas' international tourism industry, which accounts for approximately 55 percent of all Bahamian jobs and nearly half of the country's gross domestic product. The changes also would help Baha Mar, the $3.5 billion integrated gaming resort, become a greater driver of the Bahamian economy upon its grand opening in late spring 2015. Once tabled, the bill will be debated in Parliament before being put to a vote.
Baha Mar, which has worked with other casino operators in the collaborative public- and private-sector effort to modernize The Bahamas' gaming laws, thanked Prime Minister Perry Christie and the government for taking a major step in expanding The Bahamas' international tourism business. The proposed changes would generate new Bahamian jobs; stimulate private investment; and support the government's investment of hundreds of millions in tourism infrastructure, including a $409 million airport expansion, enhanced cruise-ship facilities and roadwork improvements.
"These regulatory updates would provide The Bahamas and Baha Mar with a sustainable competitive advantage, which is vital for an economy driven by international tourism," Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar's chairman and chief executive officer, said. "The Bahamas has long been known as a stable gaming jurisdiction, and these new regulations would put us on a level playing field with the world's most successful casino markets such as Las Vegas, Singapore and Macau. The regulations also would allow us to offer private VIP gaming salons, enhanced lines of credit, gaming junkets and other amenities vital to attracting affluent international casino customers."
Paul Pusateri, Baha Mar's chief operating officer, said, "The new regulations and laws would enhance Baha Mar's ability to generate strong gaming revenues. Technology-driven amenities such as internet gaming, mobile gaming and in-play sports betting will help differentiate The Bahamas in the highly competitive gaming sector. They definitely will help Baha Mar attract players from the Eastern United States, Latin America, Asia and other markets that will be important to our success."
Highlights of the proposed new regulations include:
• Proxy wagering: Allows casino licensees that are licensed on or before 1 February 2015 and are part of a resort hotel to operate remote wagering and proxy wagering systems. Allows players to place a bet without physically being on site, via proxy and technical aids.
• Mobile gaming: State-of-the-art technology will allow players to wager via mobile gaming devices from anywhere on the campus of a licensed casino facility.
• Internet gaming: Allows players to wager online.
• Enforcement of gaming debt: Allows a streamlined process for enforcement of all debts incurred by gaming activities at a licensed casino. Expedites process by which licensed operators can collect debts from patrons once they leave the jurisdiction.
• In-play sports betting: Using new technology, allows casinos or their partners to accept wagers on an event after the game has started and remains underway.
• Responsible gaming: As part of sound public policy, requires each licensed casino to adopt a responsible-gaming plan and raise public awareness of problem gaming.