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The Bahamas – Bahamian government considering opening up gaming floors to local players

By - 5 May 2023

Casinos in the Bahamas may be able to welcome local players for the first time with the proposal to open in the gaming floor to natives now very much on the table.

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said the proposals to change The Bahamas’ gaming laws will be debated over the ‘next several months.’

He said, as reported by the Tribune,: “In The Bahamas there are two sectors of gaming – casino gaming and what we refer to as gaming houses. Both sectors attract different clientele. But casino players are often looking for more high-end bets with greater stakes, and more modest players being able to turn comparatively small bets into exponentially higher wins, but both niches of the gaming sector serve their clientele well.

“However, there is a need to ensure that both sectors are performing at their peak. Number house gaming was born of innovation, and great buy-in was given by the leaders in that industry to ensure a revolutionary Bill was passed by the Government. But the barriers between these two sectors are growing thinner and may one day fall away.”

“In recent years, our Gaming Board has been tasked with reviewing and modernising our current gaming laws to ensure that they remain relevant and effective. And, over the course of the next several weeks and months, we will continue to review the recommendations from the Board, and feedback from the stakeholders in the industry, to determine what future adjustments and amendments we will make in our current legislative framework,” he said.

“While traditional slot machines and gaming tables experienced a bump in revenues in 2022, industry experts predict that the popularity of these types of games may wane in the long-term, particularly as the demographic trends for this type of gaming are geared towards an older population.

“Younger demographics will still be drawn to the casino experience, but significant numbers will drift towards online gaming and sports books. Therefore, key challenges in our current regime will have to be addressed. Digitally, both areas of gaming in The Bahamas can see development that will grow the overall industry.”

The Bahamian Gaming Board’s Executive Chairman Dr Daniel Johnson said: “It’s a proposal that we’re sending around to our industry partners. The initial response has been excellent. The large fixed-base casinos are indicating that they want Bahamians and permanent residents to be able to come in and wager.”

The change would work boith ways so tourists would be allowed to gamble in what are known as web shops for the locals. “The proposed regulations go in both directions. So, it is the removal of discrimination against anyone in The Bahamas,” Dr Johnson said.

He said: “We also have a very unique opportunity coming, which is our Family Island experience that we’re not wanting it to be as it always was. So, you may see Family Island casinos that will now request that they have a boutique set-up, where they would like anyone to be able to game in those areas.”

“The proposal speaks to Freeport, Abaco and Exuma. They may wish to have a casino where anyone above the proper age, and of the right financial status, would be able to attend and participate in that entertainment experience.”

Mr Cooper added that incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into the gaming model could help attract gaming tourists and ensure fair play. “Offerings such as virtual reality gaming allow us to utilize AI and emerging technologies to add to players’ experiences,” he added. “AI, in fact, has the potential to revolutionise gaming by offering personalised experiences, optimising game design and enhancing security measures.

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