NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Island Luck CEO Sebas Bastian called on the government to make its plan for economic reopening clear and inclusive, noting the prime minister’s recent comments appeared to personally target the gaming industry.
Bastian questioned the decision to keep the sector that employs more than 3,500 people closed after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis made clear last week’s amended order did not authorize gaming houses to reopen.
He pointed to Minnis’ projection during his national address that the country’s unemployment would hit 30 percent in the near term.
“Why the government is intent on keeping the sector closed and these Bahamians out of work is unclear,” Bastian said in a statement.
“What has become apparent is that there is no logic or rationale to support the government’s ad hoc decision-making. Like other sectors, the gaming industry closed its doors to help mitigate the growing public health crisis, complying with all of the emergency orders announced by the competent authority.”
Bastian noted Island Luck’s commitment to paying the salaries of all employees, inclusive of approval to pay unemployment benefits directly to all eligible employees.
He said Island Luck has also paid the balance of any shortfall not covered by NIB unemployment benefits.
Island Luck has implemented new technology, along with our existing drive-through capabilities, physical distancing, and sanitization protocols during the shutdown, according to Bastian.
“If government’s core objective is to reduce the possibility of the spread of COVID-19, we have gone above and beyond to meet that objective,” his statement continued.
“In fact, Island Luck has one of the most efficient and well-organized curbside services in The Bahamas.”
“Given the Prime Minister’s fingering-wagging at the gaming industry despite these measures, it can only be assumed that reducing the spread of COVID-19 is not the government’s core objective. And, with liquor stores and other “non-essential” businesses open, we now know that the aim is not to limit so-called “vices” or to restrict the operation of non-essential businesses.”
“With unemployment set to peak at a record high, likely over 30 percent as asserted by the Prime Minister himself, one would expect some dialogue between the government and an industry that employs a significant number of Bahamians. Instead, there has been silence and the gaming industry has been assailed by this government yet again.
“The gaming industry is more than willing to do its part to halt the spread of COVID-19 and help return The Bahamas to a state of normalcy.”
The statement added: “To avoid further confusion, the government should make clear its decision-making processes as it relates to business openings and take an inclusive approach to this decision-making by engaging industry stakeholders the same way that courtesy is extend to other industries. Regardless it leaves a glaring question are these measures Purposeful or Personal?”