Bastian: Technological evolution to drive significant reduction in webshop locations within the next decade

Bastian: Technological evolution to drive significant reduction in webshop locations within the next decade

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A prominent gaming house operator predicts a significant reduction in the number of webshop locations over the next five to ten years as technology evolves, rendering certain roles obsolete and necessitating upskilling for newer positions.

Sebas Bastian, CEO of Island Luck, spoke as a panelist during a session at the 4th Caribbean Regulators Forum held at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort on Thursday. He emphasized, “Employment will continue to change over the years not so much in terms of a reduction of employees but in terms of different skill sets that will be needed as technology continues to evolve. I do see where five to ten years from now there will be significantly fewer webshops. That probably will lead to a reduction in the need for cashiers and security officers who would have been stationed at those locations. That doesn’t necessarily mean a decline in employment but rather a decline in that type of employment. It means it’s time to invest in upskilling the staff so they can be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow and transition into other parts of our organizations.”

Bastian also stressed the need to ensure that gaming regulations keep pace with fast-evolving industry technology, trends, and consumer habits. “We have to ensure that technology isn’t making certain parts of the legislation obsolete,” he stated, noting that patrons engage more online now.

FML Group of Companies CEO Craig Flowers also stressed the need for legislation governing the industry to keep up with technological advances, arguing that the industry cannot be competitive if it is hindered by bureaucracy.

Flowers also cited employment as a challenge, pointing to the issue of finding qualified persons, a sentiment shared by Sure Win CEO Leader Brice. “Employment is a huge part of our ability to grow. We are faced with the issue of finding qualified persons to help our business to grow. Our local pool from which we draw employees is very shallow, to say the least. No business can grow without employees,” said Flowers. Brice noted: “I think the pool we have available is very small. I think we all pull from the same demographic.”

Bastian said that 10 years after the industry’s regulation, he still has issues with the disparity in taxes between gaming house operators and land-based casinos. “Ten years later I still have issues with this disparity in the tax between the land-based casinos and domestic gaming operators. I’m not suggesting that we should go down to five percent; I think that would be grossly unfair to the country but what I am saying is it is about time they come up and pay their fair share of taxes as well,” he said.

Reflecting on the journey to industry regulation, which came following a referendum on legalizing web shops and establishing a national lottery in the Bahamas on 28 January 2013, Bastian said the results were not reflective of reality.

“We always believed internally amongst ourselves that that was not a reflection of reality. In 2012, there were 186,000 registered voters on the ballot and in our systems collectively there were 100,000 active unique players patronizing the game so almost 70 percent of adult Bahamians were wagering so we knew by their conduct what the realities were but we live in a democratic society and people have a right to say no,” said Bastian.