Money

Bahamian investors one of the bidders for the casino calling on the government to live up to its campaign promise

by: Lededra Marche, News Editor

A Bahamian group, which has put in its bid, is identifying itself and claiming it has both the financial backing and expertise to take over operations at the Treasure Bay Casino in Port Lucaya and is awaiting a response from government. 

“We’ve made an application to the government and we expect to be respected and we expect the process to work. If you’re not going to give it to us, let us know and be respectful about it,” Celebration Entertainment Gaming (CEG) Chairman, Sidney Stubbs, said yesterday at a briefing in Grand Bahama.

The group was formed a year and half ago and brings together over 75 years of casino operations management and executive leadership in the casino industry, according to Stubbs.

The Bahamian business partners include Maxwell Sweeting, who serves as chief financial officer; Tommy Thompson, who is the longest serving deputy secretary of the Gaming Board of the Bahamas and Rufus Johnson.

Government has been seeking out an operator for the casino property since its operators, Treasure Bay Inc., revealed that it would not remain when its contract expired back in January.

Treasure Bay Inc. is based in Biloxi, Mississippi and took over the property from Isle of Capri in March 2010.

Government recently revealed that the list of prospective buyers was narrowed to three as it is working on a time frame to choose an operator by the time the adjacent Reef property opens.

Concerned over the fact that they have yet to hear anything since their last meeting in April, Stubbs and several members of the group held a briefing to put a face to their name and disclose plans they have for the revitalization of the casino and ultimately the island.

Stubbs said that after coming together, the group sought out foreign joint venture partners with additional casino expertise and money, namely Omar Amanat, a successful businessman and entrepreneur in the United States, who has been profiled in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, and his partners Wallace Cheves, who has wide expertise in the gaming industry and Sean Sullivan, one of the leading investment bankers.

Stubbs also revealed that the Bahamian group devised the business plan.

“We also retained a very aggressive young group of CPAs and financial analysts called the AGM Partners. These are all very brilliant Bahamians, because we want to put together a first class team to represent the interest of Bahamians and promote the concept of Bahamians becoming major players in the Bahamian economy, particularly in gaming,” Stubbs said.

The group submitted its proposal in November 2012, according to Stubbs, who pointed out that they had made the initial application, under the Silver Palm Group.

“Once we did our joint venture with Mr. Armana, Sean Sullivan and Wallace Cheves we jointly decided, seeing that they started the process to buy the Celebration, that we would change the name of the group to CEG,” he said.

Stubbs said the group then met with government officials in New Providence Armana and his team came to Grand Bahama, was given a tour of the casino and had further meetings with executives of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA).

According to Stubbs, the U.S. investors are also in negotiations with cruiseship owners and are expected to make an announcement soon.

“They brought their hotel people, who run their 39 hotels, worldwide, and they went through and spoke to the people at the hotel,” he said. “They’re putting together a document now for the Grand Bahama Port Authority.

“We must say as a Bahamian group that we have gotten tremendous help and assistance in terms of advice from the Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Darville.”

Stubbs noted that the Progressive Liberal Party, during their  election campaign, talked about Bahamianization and putting Bahamians first and now the group is calling on them to demonstrate that vision.

“We’re calling upon visionary members of the government like the Honorable Fred Mitchell, Allyson Maynard Gibson, the attorney general, Kaalis Rolle, Michael Halkitis, and the prime minister one of the greatest Bahamians,” he said.

“These people, they believe in that visionary approach to economy building and building a nation. All we’re saying is, we’re not asking you for anything. Put Bahamians first. Give this group, and other Bahamian groups a chance, and let us bring our creative juices to flow and to the forefront, along with our credible international partners with deep pockets, plenty money and let’s make things happen.”

The group believes it has the right formula.

“We can rebuild Grand Bahama and we can rebuild the rest of the country, but the government needs to wake up and say ‘sure we’re with you, we support you. Bring us the credible people, bring the credible groups,’” he said.

Stubbs addressed the mentality Bahamians have among themselves when it comes to investment.

“There is a pervasive thing in the country where a lot of Bahamians downgrade and denigrate each other, we need to stop that,” he said.

“We need to get this ignorant, silly mentality out of the Bahamian psyche and we need to start thinking like 21century citizens. “

he said the group simply wants to be given a fair chance.

“We’re saying listen, don’t denigrate us, don’t call us crooks, don’t call us robbers, don’t call us thieves, second-class citizens we’re Bahamians,” he said, adding that the group is not desperate and has other projects in the pipeline.

Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe revealed yesterday that the CEG group is not the only Bahamian group who has put in its bid and explained that the negotiation process for casino operator is carried out by Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas. 

“The Hotel Corporation technically owns the casino and that group and the consultant from the Prime minister’s office, Mr. Baltron Bethel who also consults also with the Ministry of Tourism, has been responsible for discussions,” he said.

“We have been made aware of all the groups. We have spoken to one or two, but we do not sit down and engage in the negotiations. The minister does not get in that at all, because the minister deals with it upon the recommendation of the group and the consultant.”

The recommendations, he explained, subsequently go to the Gaming Board, which does not involve itself and maintains a hands-off approach. 

Any documentation that is sent to him as a point of initial contact, he forwards it on to Bethel.

“At the appropriate time all those who have applied will be told, but no one has been told as yet,” he stressed.

It has become a long process to find the right operator.

“We are sitting, we’re talking, we’re looking at the qualities, the ability, the strengths, the experience — that’s being weighed and upon conclusion then all will be informed as to who would have been given the opportunity,” he said.

“Because we don’t want to find ourselves in a situation again where we’re dealing with companies like we had with Isle of Capri and with the present casino, that cannot give us what we need.”

Government is looking for a brand and sustainability that is going to cause for the expansion and growth of Grand Bahama, he added.

 “What we’re looking for is a company that has reach, that has experience, that has the wherewithal to cause for marking, to cause for development,” he said.

“What we’ve seen in the past is where The Bahamas government has put millions and millions of dollars into a wasted effort. We can’t waste the people’s money anymore. 

We’re looking for someone who, with serious casino operators that have that international reputation that understands what it is to run a casino that has reach, that can reach out and get a client base, that has a client base to begin with, that’s what we’re looking for.”

The process, he noted, is open to everyone.

“We’re inviting everyone to submit, but at the end of the day we have to make a decision that is going to cause for growth and development in Grand Bahama for the sustainability of Grand Bahama,” he said.

“We are very pleased that Bahamian companies that are now stepping up and offering themselves, but they go through the same due diligence, not by the minister but by the hotel corporation and the Gaming Board subsequently but are led by the advisor to the prime minister’s office and to the minister, Sir Baltron Bethel.

“When the final decision is made, the minister and prime minister are advised on the recommendation being made. That’s when we get into it.”

He said progress is being made, however, it is taking longer than they want it to.

posted on: Thursday, October 23, 2014 11:19 PM

Title:

I agree with some of the comments here about Bahamians who hire and fire thinking they are god! Their GOD will fire them in due time!! They must be aware of HOW they are treating their own brother!! Bahamians should be hired and kept on the job based on their performance and experience. and this goes for the government as well, Many of the government workers use their power in a very bad way, but they...Bahamian man or woman who think they are god! You are not, you are in slavery just like the rest of us, and many of these Bahamian employers go to "church." Yes, I am a Bahamian, and as one commenter wrote, employers in other countries treat their employees with respect and based on performance and experience. Such a shame living in this place where outsiders can come in and see the stupidity of the Bahamians! This is why this country will be over run by foreign investors, because we treat one another horrible instead of building up one another. We are tearing down our own house!!! Sorry to say this Pro Bahamian, but this nation has a lot of jealous, high and mighty attitudes that will kick its own down...like black crabs. I DO NOT like seeing foreign investor in this country. I love my Bahamian people, but they are not a "let's work together," "Let's pull one another up," type of people at all! Many Bahamians, dare I say it...can be very stupid.

posted on: Monday, July 07, 2014 6:09 AM

Title:

Any chance a new medical school in the Bahamas could improve the politics and the economics of the country?

Bank Manager posted on: Monday, February 17, 2014 4:48 PM

Title:

Who says Bahamians can't run a casino, they sure can. They can run it straight into the down for sure and make the investors loose their shirts at the same time; killing two birds with one stone.

Tiffany posted on: Monday, February 17, 2014 4:39 PM

Title:

The only good Bahamian is the ones behind bars.

Bahamian Employer posted on: Monday, February 17, 2014 4:34 PM

Title:

I refuse to hire Bahamians, please send more foreigners. With foreign employees, my business has more than doubled compared to a 60% lost from missing and stolen merchandise when I had Bahamian employees. I am Bahamian and never treated or looked down upon any Bahamian, but that didn't stop them from lying, stealing, and being rude to my customers. So now all my employees are Asian, who work hard, are on time, and care about their job. Face the truth, Bahamians have made a reputation for themselves that is now hunting them everyday and will make them do just about anything to serve.

Corinne posted on: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 4:12 PM

Title:

Bahamians!....OMG...I wouldn't let them even take care of my dog! Bahamians are slaves to the reputations they have made for themselves....Worthless!

Welch posted on: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 3:54 PM

Title:

Investing in the Bahamas is a good idea, investing in Bahamians is a lost in investment. Theses are the facts, Bahamians are known world wide as lazy, rude, thieving people , to invest in them is like giving the wolves the sheep's.

turksqueen posted on: Monday, December 16, 2013 9:38 PM

Title:

I hope this is not the same sean sullivan, who came to turks and caicos islands and scam black people out of their land and owe a grand bahamian 4 million dollars that man is a scam artisit.don't for god sake trust that sean sullivan type.

FutureMP posted on: Monday, December 02, 2013 9:55 AM

Title:

I strongly believe in the empowerment of the Bahamian people although sometimes we fall short and may fall victim to bribery and things of an illegal nature I beleive that the Bahamas is for Bahamians and we should be running our own industries not foreigners. To you all who frown upon Bahamian ownership you should frown upon yourself and go off and get a little more education so you too can try to run a business. Stop waiting for a foreigner or praising foreign ownership. With this mentality you will always be an employee and not an employer!!

eerose posted on: Friday, November 08, 2013 11:09 PM

Title:

I am very confident that those Bahamians can run a casino. and I hope the Government will give them a chance to do so.

A.Gambino posted on: Thursday, October 03, 2013 3:58 PM

Title:

The House is not in it to lose, the longer you stay, the more odds you give the House against you. Trust me, I know, I made $1100 dollars out of $200 playing French Roulette in 12 minutes on line. But once the House or it's Computer noticed my strategies, picking 3 numbers out of 37, and always moving it around, never picking the same numbers. The House started winning it's money back by cheating. It would hit those 3 numbers two to three times in a row, which is impossible! My father and uncle use to run the Casinos in Cuba in the 40's,they told me NEVER to gamble, it's all in their favor. I could have walked away with $2100, but got greedy and only took $1100. The Casinos won't allow me to play anymore, they said I'm a card counter, but with the Roulette table. Don't gamble, the House will always win it's money back, if you happen to win a game or two.

posted on: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 11:57 PM

Title:

That casino has never been successful since it's opening. No matter who the owner is it has been a huge waste of space. Walk past it any night and the only people you see are those employee's standing around waiting for people to come in. If there isn't money going it you can be sure there isn't money coming out. GB is just wasting away while Nassau/PI and the Out Islands are booming.

posted on: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 1:19 PM

Title:

I agree with the first part of Free Thinker's post. SOME Bahamian employers do treat their workers unfairly and that's unfortunate; but it all comes down to education. We need to educate ourselves and our children, so that we would be able to invest and manage our own affairs. If Bahamians can go off abroad and be hired as teachers in the universities and are doctors and engineers and hotel managers and the list goes on and on. Why can't they come home and do it here? WE NEED OUR EDUCATED BAHAMIAN PEOPLE TO COME HOME AND BUILD UP OUR OWN COUNTRY INSTEAD OF BUILDING UP "UDDA PEOPLE TINGS"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Free Thinker posted on: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:11 PM

Title:

To Pro Bahamian: Oh you have been misinformed. It's not the fact that I love foreigners so much. I've seen the BS everyday that goes on with the majority of Bahamian employers and their attitude towards their employees: "Oh you don't deserve this or you don't deserve that. It's too much money for you." A lot of Bahamians can't even afford to pay or even get a mortgage because they are grossly under-paid. And the managers they put in charge to oversea the daily operation of the company has a God complex. Their attitude is: "I am untouchable." I've worked for a foreign company and I was treated with fairness and respect. I was paid based on my experience and my job performance, which was excellent by the way, and I was well pleased. Further, Bahamians can't gamble, so how will these so call Bahamian investors promote this Casino via international market?This is a huge undertaking. I applaud these so-call Bahamians investors who want to take on this challenge. However, this type of business require the foreign market. And let's be realistic: white people are more comfortable communicating with their own kind. They tend to be more trusting of people that's in their own race. That's the hard honest truth, so who's ignorant now!

posted on: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:21 AM

Title:

I AGREE WITH THE COMMENTS ABOVE. BAHAMIANS WITH THAT KIND OF POWER ARE CORRUPT AND WILL ONLY TRY TO KEEP OTHER BAHAMIANS DOWN. CORRUPTION, BEHIND THE SCENES DEALS, UNFAIRLY TARGETING PEOPLE AND THE NEGATIVE LIST GOES ON. POINT BLANK BAHAMIANS CAN'T RUN ANYTHING!............I'M DESCENDENT FROM A SLAVE MASTER AND HE WOULD BE PROUD OF ME RIGHT NOW...(SARCASTIC YET TRUE)
I WAS TOLD DURING THE LAST ELECTION THAT BAHAMIANS CAN'T RUN A BUSINESS AND ASKED THAT VERY PERSON WHY HE WAS VOTING FOR " BAHAMIANS" TO RUN THIS COUNTRY-- "IDIOT." AS A MATTER OF FACT, THE DESCRIPTION I GAVE AT THE BEGINNING EMBODIES OUR "BAHAMIAN" POLITICIANS, WHO HAVE THE BIGGEST RESPONSIBILITY RIGHT NOW AND THAT IS RUNNING THIS COUNTRY; AND WE ALL KNOW HOW THAT'S GOING!
EVERY TIME WE HEAR ABOUT SCAMS, MONEY LAUNDERING, COOPERATE THIEVES, EMBEZZLEMENT ON AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, THEY ARE NOT BAHAMIANS....AS A MATTER OF FACT THEY LOOK LIKE -"SOME" - AND I REPEAT "SOME" OF THE VERY PEOPLE THAT COME HERE TO INVEST THAT WE SOOO BELIEVE BETTER THAN US AND THEY'RE NOT. THEY ARE JUST LIKE US.....(DUMB BAHAMIANS)
IF SOMEONE COMES TO THIS ISLAND TO GAMBLE, BELIEVE ME IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT NAME IS ON THE CASINO...THEY WILL STILL GAMBLE. THIS WAS PROVEN AT THE PRINCESS CASINO WHEN, FOR A PERIOD OF TIME, THEY WERE THE CASINO AT BAHAMIA AND THE PLACE WAS STILL FULL OF GAMBLERS. BECAUSE OF THE LAWS THAT GOVERN US WE HAVE TO LOOK FOR FOREIGNERS TO PLACE THEIR NAMES ON THE CASINO IN LUCAYA, PAY THEM, AND LET THE GOVERNMENT FOOT THE BILL FOR SALARIES, ADVERTISEMENT AND KEEPING THE DOORS OPEN. INSTEAD OF CORRECTING THE PROBLEM AND LETTING THESE BAHAMIANS TAKE OVER, THEY WOULD RATHER LOOK FOR A NEW FOREIGN GROUP TO GIVE MONEY AND CONCESSIONS TO. YOU BAHAMIANS WHO THINK THAT THE FOREIGNER IS FIT FOR WHAT WE CAN DO OUR SELVES NEED TO GO BACK TO THE PLANTATION BECAUSE THE PLANTATION IS STILL IN YOU. AND WHILE YOU'RE AT IT, LET THE FOREIGNER BE THE HEAD OF YOUR HOME 'CAUSE YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED FOR THAT JOB EITHER. IF YOU'RE A BAHAMIAN AND YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN OTHER BAHAMIANS, THEN YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. C O L O N I A L I S M!....IS KILLING US IN 2013 AND MY GREAT GREAT GREAT GRAMPA WOULD BE PROUD......SORRY GRAMPS YOU WERE'NT BAHAMIAN BUT I AM, AND I WANT TO RUN MY OWN THINGS!....a mean TINGS!

EVERY TIME WE HEAR ABOUT SCAMS, MONEY LAUNDERING, COOPERATE THIEVES, EMBEZZLEMENT ON AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, THEY ARE NOT BAHAMIANS....AS A MATTER OF FACT THEY LOOK LIKE -"SOME" - AND I REPEAT "SOME" OF THE VERY PEOPLE THAT COME HERE TO INVEST THAT WE SOOO BELIEVE BETTER THAN US AND THEY'RE NOT. THEY ARE JUST LIKE US.....(DUMB BAHAMIANS)
IF SOMEONE COMES TO THIS ISLAND TO GAMBLE, BELIEVE ME IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT NAME IS ON THE CASINO...THEY WILL STILL GAMBLE. THIS WAS PROVEN AT THE PRINCESS CASINO WHEN, FOR A PERIOD OF TIME, THEY WERE THE CASINO AT BAHAMIA AND THE PLACE WAS STILL FULL OF GAMBLERS. BECAUSE OF THE LAWS THAT GOVERN US WE HAVE TO LOOK FOR FOREIGNERS TO PLACE THEIR NAMES ON THE CASINO IN LUCAYA, PAY THEM, AND LET THE GOVERNMENT FOOT THE BILL FOR SALARIES, ADVERTISEMENT AND KEEPING THE DOORS OPEN. INSTEAD OF CORRECTING THE PROBLEM AND LETTING THESE BAHAMIANS TAKE OVER, THEY WOULD RATHER LOOK FOR A NEW FOREIGN GROUP TO GIVE MONEY AND CONCESSIONS TO. YOU BAHAMIANS WHO THINK THAT THE FOREIGNER IS FIT FOR WHAT WE CAN DO OUR SELVES NEED TO GO BACK TO THE PLANTATION BECAUSE THE PLANTATION IS STILL IN YOU. AND WHILE YOU'RE AT IT, LET THE FOREIGNER BE THE HEAD OF YOUR HOME 'CAUSE YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED FOR THAT JOB EITHER. IF YOU'RE A BAHAMIAN AND YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN OTHER BAHAMIANS, THEN YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. C O L O N I A L I S M!....IS KILLING US IN 2013 AND MY GREAT GREAT GREAT GRAMPA WOULD BE PROUD......SORRY GRAMPS YOU WERE'NT BAHAMIAN BUT I AM, AND I WANT TO RUN MY OWN THINGS!....a mean TINGS!" />

Bahama Conch Man posted on: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 9:14 AM

Title:

I am truly impress by fellow citizens ideology with ambition, to attempt ownership and control such a business. All my life it was until a foreign company get here for whatever reason, so that we can work. Stop setting down waiting and start doing, and if any one else comes along with a plan and moneys take it under consideration getting it done. However there is Mr. or Mrs. so an so who owns that parcel make them a meaningful offer, and invest keep it moving. You say Bahamians are first, let us see you make it happen, and that is my five cent.

EYES OF TRUTH posted on: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:02 AM

Title:

Tourism is our main Industry and in 40 years we are not major players YET? This is the same for Banking our 2nd Industry. It is Bahamians who do all of the work. It is about time we became owners in our own industries. It is a shame that the local and international investors had to put it out there to motivate the government to move ahead and stop being so pensive. Let us see what happens the money is in place the business plans and the expertise. SO WHAT IS THE HOLD UP ??? GO BAHAMAS !!

Pro Bahamian posted on: Monday, September 23, 2013 11:49 PM

Title:

Back door deals have always and will continue to go on! And Free Thinker it's wrong for you to generalize all Bahamians employers. Stop being so ignorant! You like foreigners that much that you would put them before your own ppl. You are truly an idiot!

thevadovian posted on: Monday, September 23, 2013 10:59 PM

Title:

sadly free thinker your right thats why we should find a body that raises the minimum wage and rights of all workers nationwide

posted on: Monday, September 23, 2013 5:56 PM

Title:

Its a bad Idea. It will only lead to corruption and back door deals. No to Casinos. March on Bahama Land !!

Free Thinker posted on: Monday, September 23, 2013 4:20 PM

Title:

Who wants Bahamians to invest in anything? I sure don't and I am a Bahamian. Bahamian employers DO NOT pay their employees fairly. They lack appreciation for really good workers. They do not provide opportunities for employee growth in their organization. In their world, it's all about 'themselves, so either you as an employee conform to my wishes or find the nearest exit. Oh hell no to Bahamian investors!!

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