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Flowers: I’M Not Firing Staff

Craig Flowers

Craig Flowers

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

CRAIG Flowers says he has gone against the grain in opting not to lay off employees because it is not known if his company – FML Group of Companies - will suffer loss due to increased government taxes, which includes a five percent stamp tax on patrons.

Mr Flowers rejected as “fruitless” government pronouncements and even those of fellow web shop bosses yesterday, telling The Tribune it is ultimately the gamer who will determine whether the industry continues to grow or if it will retract.

Until patrons give their response, Mr Flowers said he refuses to inflict fear and uncertainty in the hearts and minds of employees.

Operators have seemingly used staff cuts to push back against the government’s impending new sliding tax scale system, which comes into force in just one week.

So far three web shop operators have taken this position.

The Asure Win web shop last week said it would close 11 sites and terminate about 50 workers by the end of this month. The increase taxes forced it to make fundamental business decisions concerning the future sustainability of operations, the company said in a statement.

Island Luck has further warned 350 of its employees could be sent to the unemployment line.

Paradise Games has also foreshadowed the same action, although it has not intimated the number of cuts it is considering.

However, in a memo to his staff, Mr Flowers told his workers he was committed to remaining open to secure their jobs.

“I have the largest responsibility because I have been in the business longer than everyone else and I have great staff and employees, some 15 and even 18 years with my company,” Mr Flowers told The Tribune yesterday. He was asked to speak about the memo dated June 20, which is now making the rounds on social media.

“They are a part of my family so I am not prepared to make any statements that will put them in fear of their jobs at this time. I have a first responsibility in the line of order. It is to my staff and then to my customers. I am not prepared to put them in an odd position in reference to fear.”

He continued: “I have to wait until I see what impact it’s going to have on the industry.

“None of us, including the government, has any knowledge as to how the patrons will respond to this. All of the talk that we have been hearing thus far has been either from the web shop operators or from the government. We have yet to hear from the customers.

“Those are the people that will determine size and the impact of this industry and until we give them some time to show us what is going to be their response, all of these numbers, all of these projections and all of these decisions that are being made are fruitless. They have zero impact.”

The imposition of the five per cent stamp tax on deposits and winnings on July 1 will be the first time in the industry’s history patrons will be footing some level of taxation for their decision to gamble in web shops.

“I want to be very optimistic about the patrons continuing to play these games, but that is going to be left for us to see what will July bring us as far as the support from our patrons. At that point, I would be prepared to speak with my employees. But without that I can’t go on what the government says.

“The government does not have any control over the industry in terms of growth or any reduction in the industry is concerned. The patrons make those decisions.”

Mr Flowers said his company has not been a party to discussions between the government and the Bahamas Gaming House Operators Association because he is not a part of the BGOA.

He said this was the case because of “personal differences.”

“We have our own personal differences with some of the decisions that was being made by the association. FML still supports the association in its efforts and in a lot of things, but we don’t agree with all the policies. Some of them are personal to myself and I so choose to walk a different road, but certainly with the utmost respect for the association because they do have a mandate to look after the entire industry.”

On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest told The Nassau Guardian the government is not to blame for 350 job cuts to come at Island Luck. He said it is unfair and a bit of a stretch to say the layoffs would occur because of the increased taxes.

Labour Minister Dion Foulkes has also said the cuts were “unfortunate,” when he spoke of the job losses to come at Asure Win, adding there are several factors contributing to the closure of gaming houses aside from a tax increase.

He has also called for web shop owners to take a moment and examine how the government’s new sliding tax scale will affect them, instead of “anticipating” that it will be detrimental.

The new sliding tax scale is set to take effect on July 1.

Under the new measures, web shops will pay a 20 percent tax on up to $20 million of their revenue, a 25 percent tax on between $20 million and $40 million of their revenue, a 30 percent tax on between $40 million and $60 million of their revenue, a 35 percent tax on between $60 million and $80 million of their revenue, a 40 percent tax on between $80 million and $100 million of their revenue and 50 percent on revenue above $100 million.

Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar has said some web shops were on the verge of downsizing even before the planned tax increase was announced.

Comments

John 1 year, 8 months ago

Many persons are confusing web shop gaming with a national lottery. But they are two completely different products. Persons who buy lottery tickets do so specifically with the intent of winning a prize. Persons who gamble sometimes are not driven by their winnings but by the act of gaming itself, just like someone may love playing basketball, even though they may never win a game or even pulling for a team in the NBA that does not have a winning history. So those who advocate closing down the web shops may be opening a backdoor for the resurgence of illegal gambling as the great demand for it will not be fulfilled by a national lottery. And experts have already informed the government that the success of a local lottery will be limited in its success because of the competition from Florida and other lotteries. Why spend a dollar to win a few Hundred Thousand Dollars locally, when that same dollar gives you the same chance to win milions if Florida.

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licks2 1 year, 8 months ago

John you need to just hang it up when it comes to being fair, open and well informed about critical national matters. . .either you cannot comprehend syllogistically or you are dead set on telling lies. For example, the finding on the national lottery was funded by the numbers boys' "expert" who came from South Africa and advised the PLP government to used the "not enough people for a nation lottery" notion for justification for saying not to the peoples' request of closing down web-shops!

There are plenty "moving the nanny out of the way" must be done in ferreting out a balanced answer from that information. . .but you seem to always "burst through" with neatly packaged snippets that takes no consideration to common logic. . .this does not serve you well. . .it simple makes you look biased to a fault!!

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 8 months ago

Will the government ever get an audit of the worth of this Cartel boss?????

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 8 months ago

" I have a first responsibility in the line of order. It is to my staff and then to my customers."

For His Royal Highness Sir Craig Flowers to say the above about his first responsibility in line of order is absolutely laughable. This low-life thug's true first responsibility in line of order is his money pockets, his money pockets, his money pockets.....ad infinitum!

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licks2 1 year, 8 months ago

Mr Flowers is an astute "saving his azz" expert. . .unlike a greedy and socially brash" IL. . .Mr. Flowers has read his budget publication. . .as did Rick Lowe. . .one of government biggest critics. . .doc did a Houdini on them. . .break-down the budget where the "lil man" can read it. . ."buggardum". . .them others them up under the bus. . .all of a sudden the government is right on target. . .being sensible!! Flowers is doing what any good cooperate citizen should have done to not appear "a slizzy greedy hog" who only want to take everything from the poor and give them back anything!! Them others smell like robber barons and Flowers comes out as "Mr. I care" as usual!!! He was "Mr. BULLY" when they though they had the government on the ropes. . .but as usual. . .they got punched from behind their heads. . .

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DDK 1 year, 8 months ago

Such an ethical, caring dude!

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vlmarshall 1 year, 8 months ago

I'm still at a loss as to why we feel the need to make the webshop owners into villains. These men were apart of an illegal venture, they could have stayed underground and keep all of their profits to themselves save for the payouts to the corrupt MPs and Officers. They made the provisions to legitimize and create a new industry. They should be applauded for their ingenuity. Grant it their move to legalization is clouded because of the ineptitude of the former government. But blame the former government for their lack of transparency during the process. All this "low life thing and cartel talk is pure nonsense. Yeah, they made lots of money, loads of money but are they at fault for being profitable? Isn't that why people go into business? If we have so much energyy to push for the closure of the web shops, let's push for the closure of the liquor stores as well.

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licks2 1 year, 8 months ago

Nice try dude. . .you even een funny. . .are you getting paid to say that? Please ask your boss to hire birdie or tal. . .hell John will do better than that! Hehehehehehehehe!!!

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John 1 year, 8 months ago

Yes and 80 Billion tons of cocaine goes into the US every year. Wonder who’s smuggling and distributing that. A multi trillion dollar illegal narcotic industry.

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truetruebahamian 1 year, 8 months ago

Does this crook look in any way like an honest man?

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 8 months ago

True .......... Can any credible person vouch for HOW Flowers made his money????? ........ A pilot flying an airline in the Middle East??? ....... LMAO

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vlmarshall 1 year, 8 months ago

@john Last time I checked cocaine hasn't been a legalized industry anywhere. So that comparison doesn't even make sense. @truebahamian what does honest look like? I would live to hear your description of honest.@sheeprunner12 can any credible person vouch for how alot of Bahamain businessmen made their money?

Some or the arguments that we bring up to explain our disdain of people make no sense. Especially since we only want to apply the reasoning towards specific people. Don't let unfounded allegations and gossip be your measuring stick who is honest and who is not.

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licks2 1 year, 8 months ago

Hi Mr. Flowers. . .this gatta be you to reason so "logically" here with no appearance of muddied thinking for whatever reason. . .

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TalRussell 1 year, 8 months ago

Unlike many Comrades raking in wealth from their home county - Mr. Craig is playing his wealth forward. Happy learn today that Mr. Craig has promised to erect a statue to honour durable Comrade Chippie "The King of Goatskin" for his lifetime great contributions to culture country made over his 89 years on behalf his beloved Rake N; Scrape music..... a man's who still performs 7 days a week - beginning at 7:30 am.

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John 1 year, 8 months ago

@ licks : the study I know about was done under Hubert Ingraham and the previous FNM and not the PLP so stop telling blatant lies. Yes liters as Hubert Ingraham would say. And to prove you are even more intentionally trying to discredit me to misinform the unsuspecting public, international studies have been done and yielded the same results. So take your licks and carry your lies somewhere else. Your credibility scale is so unbalanced it is licking you in your head, Just hope it doesn’t turn red like your neck is.

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Porcupine 1 year, 8 months ago

Mr. Flowers is right. The people will decide if he wins or loses. It is only a game to him. All bets are that the government, in collusion with the big Bahamian businessmen, will keep the average Bahamian in such dire straits that they will always run to those who offer some hope, as little and delusional as it may be. These are politicians, pastors and the web shop owners. All of them promise big winnings. All of them are clever. They ALL lie. Minnis and Turnquest are liars. Who can argue this? The Christian Council, perhaps too dense to understand their own lies. The advertisements paid for by the web shops, all lies, unless math is fully discounted as being real. But, the Bahamian people, well read as they are, just keep repeating the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Those who end up riding around in fancy cars and living in big houses rarely, if ever, think of the Bahamian people. This trend is increasing. As a world, we are becoming increasingly callous, self facebook centered, and ignorant as to what any sense of justice and fairness may entail. Here in The Bahamas, the rich, as elsewhere, have lost their humanity if they ever had it. This plays out in politics, in the churches and on the streets of Nassau. Those who cannot see this are blind. Perhaps not wholly to blame, but still blind.

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John 1 year, 8 months ago

Government is blowing its trumpet because there was some growth in the economy last year for the first time in a long time and this grid expected to continue through this year. And when the mid year budget is passed and significant work starts on infrastructure development and improvement this should stimulate even more growth in the economy. But what caused the first growth spurt in 2017? For one there was Bah Mar coming on stream, at least a big part of the resort was opened, finally, hiring thousands of Bahamians. Then there was a significant increase in tourists numbers overall. Many attribute this increase to a great part of the Caribbean being still under significant hurricane damage and travelers coming to the Bahamas as alternative travel. And some believe it is because the US economy has rebounded significantly and workers are seeing increases in their pay and their confidence level is up enough to allow them to take vacations to places that include the Bahamas. And they believe the growth in the economy is long term and sustainable. But how much of this growth can be directly attributed to web shops? They hired large numbers of Bahamians too, and they leased store space that was previously empty or shuttered. They paid their license fees and other taxes and utility bill is and collectively hundreds of millions circulated through these legal businesses. And previously and prior to being licensed all this was done underground. The government got zero in taxes , tokens in license fees, fewer employees were hired and always at the risk of being arrested and jailed, and a new industry has been created that is for the most part successful. And while many still want to hit on the note that this grew out of an illegal activity, many who criticized have for fathers who participate ed in the illegal rum running or even the deadly and in humane slave trade. Progress is being made.

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licks2 1 year, 8 months ago

Gambling is currently illegal for Bahamian citizens. However, illegal gambling establishments known as "web shops" allow betting on American lottery numbers. The referendum had been a campaign promise of the Progressive Liberal Party prior to the 2012 general elections. After winning the elections, plans were announced to Parliament on 1 November 2012 to hold a referendum on legalising web shops on 3 December. However, on 16 November a further announcement was made that the national lottery question would also be asked and a new date of 28 January 2013 was proposed. Legalising and regulating the web shops was supported by Prime Minister Perry Christie, who claimed it could raise $20 million a year in tax revenues. However, religious groups opposed the move. Read this carefully and see how mixed-up you are!! The lotter question was first put to the public during the PLP 2012 campaign platform. . .they were the ones who commissioned the study by the South African company. . .now if you have an FNM study just tell us where to find it!! We know how "over blown" you can be with the facts. . .just check your 80 billion tons of drugs going into the USA each year! BUT THE MULTI-TRILLION $$$ INDUSTRY. . .WHEN THE WHOLE USA BUDGET A YEAR IS ONLY 3.69 TRILLION USD!! yOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN WITH YA THINGS THERE FELLA!

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