BGOA refutes comments made by Director of Labour

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association  (BGOA) on Wednesday expressed that they wanted to ‘unequivocally refute’ the published statements made by Director of Labour, John Pinder, as his comments are wholly inaccurate, unsupported and inappropriate as it relates to the gaming industry.

“As reported in the Tribune’s article dated June 26, 2019, the Director of Labour – Mr. John Pinder – in responding to a staff reporter’s question regarding trade disputes – was quoted as saying, ‘Quite a number of disputes come from number houses. I am often baffled at the fact that these web shop owners are throwing millions of dollars on a party through the Christmas and hate to pay their staff a decent salary and treat them fairly.’”

The BGOA said it also takes umbrage to the egregious misrepresentation of what was also written in the Tribune’s editorial as an interpretation of the Director of Labour’s comments, with no substantiated or empirical evidence to support it, when it was noted that, “the Director of Labour was referring to workers at the web shops – who get to see their employers making a big show of being generous and helping the community only to end up going home with small pay packets and unfair treatment.’”

The BGOA, in a statement released yesterday, said the facts are that the domestic gaming industry directly employs almost 3,000 Bahamians and supports, indirectly or induced, a further 1000 jobs.

“The industry employs more Bahamians across the Islands of The Bahamas than any of our counterparts in the retail sector, and our employees enjoy higher wages and benefits for similar skill-sets,” the BGOA said.

“Additionally, the industry employs Bahamians in a range of disciplines, from entry-level to human resource personnel, compliance/risk officers, financial controllers/CFO’s, attorneys, computer programmers, software developers, web & graphic designers, graphic artists, marketing experts, and other similar professionals.”

The BGOA said as it relates to the industry’s “big show of being generous and helping the community…,”as outlined in the Tribune’s article, they are very proud of its historical and current corporate and social responsibility contributions.

The BGOA also noted that since the regulation of the sector in 2014, it has given back more than 30 million in the areas of education, sports, culture, wellness, and entrepreneurship. Such initiatives, the BGOA said, will continue to be generous in assisting those areas of charitable, social, and community giving, as a priority.

“The BGOA finds it baffling that givebacks would be considered a point of criticism. We believe that more industries should follow the lead of the domestic gaming industry’s charitable, social, and community efforts,” the BGOA said.

“It is regrettable to have read the comments attributed to the Director of Labour, who in his capacity has the powers under the Employment Act, to deal with any employer who may be contravening the law.

“Also, the misrepresentation of responsible journalism exhibited by the editorial was most unprofessional. To place such an unsubstantiated and inappropriate label across an entire industry is just simply irresponsible.”

The BGOA said it has enjoyed a very good and cordial relationship with the Ministry of Labour and its Minister and would invite the Director to dialogue with them and share his or his department’s concerns to address and redress any supported and/or substantiated deficiencies.

“The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association’s (BGOA) members take tremendous pride in ensuring our industry continues to innovate to attract the best and the brightest, and it is incredibly proud of the nearly 3,000, Bahamian professionals directly employed by it,” the BGOA said.