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Bahamians Shun Taxed Gambling Proposals

by Amanda Banks,, London

01 February 2013

Plans to legalize the provision of taxed gambling services to residents of The Bahamas through so-called "web shops," and to launch a national state-run lottery, have been rejected following a public referendum held on January 28.

Around two-fifths of voters backed the proposals, with three-fifths against. Just under a quarter of the Bahamas population of around 350,000 turned out to the polls.

Prior to The Bahamas' general election in 2012, every political party committed to hold a referendum to gauge public opinion on regulating and taxing the provision of gambling services to residents. Since 1969, gambling has been permitted for visitors to the island, prompting the establishment of a number of large casinos, but gambling is prohibited for Bahamians and foreigners permanently residing in The Bahamas.

That being said, it is common knowledge that a wide range of gambling services are offered to resident persons, primarily via "web shops" that accept wagers on US-televised lotteries. Reports suggest that these operations, which are said to support employment for 2% of the Bahamas' population, have been allowed to operate unchallenged by Bahamas authorities. However, following the referendum these operations may be shut down.

The government had hoped that, if approved, the proposals would secure the Bahamas with a new revenue stream worth USD20m annually.

TAGS: tax | Bahamas | commerce | law | international financial centres (IFC) | offshore | internet | e-commerce | gambling | offshore e-gaming | regulation

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