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D’Aguilar: Gaming house operators could run national lottery

Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar is adamant that he doesn’t think the government should have a hand in running a national lottery given what he termed its bad track record of running businesses.

His comments come as the Minnis administration continues to consider the establishment of a national lottery.

D’Aguilar, who has responsibility for gaming, says the government is not ruling out the idea of letting the established people in the gaming business run a national lottery.

“What I said in my presentation is that it left open the opportunity for a lottery,” he said outside Cabinet.

“Now, I never said who would run that lottery…and I said specifically in my speech that I did not personally believe that the government of The Bahamas should run a lottery because of our record in running things in general.”

He said that it might be the most sensible option to have the lottery run by those already in the industry.

“…If we were to decide to go with a lottery, I’m sure a very significant case could be made for, ‘Hey we have Bahamians in the gaming industry. Would they not be best positioned to run a lottery on our behalf?’” he said.

“They have the distribution. They have the knowledge. I’m sure a very profound case could be made for that.”

He added, “The government legalized gaming to generate tax revenue, so you could still have the same people operate it. It’s just you change the tax structure. I mean, there are many ways to skin this cat.”

Talks of a national lottery reemerged earlier this month after the tourism minister raised the issue in the House of Assembly.

D’Aguilar told Parliament that amendments to the Gaming Act will expand the definition of what is considered a “numbers game” and could make way for a national lottery.

He explained that governments may use the amendment of the definition in the numbers game as a first step in establishing a national lottery involving four-ball or five-ball or six-ball.

However, D’Aguilar said yesterday that the government has not made any advancements in the establishment of a national lottery as the Gaming Board is still considering all of its options and has not yet made any recommendation on the best way forward.

“So, we have not proceeded on that matter,” he said.

“We’ve received no advice on that matter and the government is not further along in determining what it’s going to do about a lottery.”