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Gaming Bills pass; Worry expressed over Gambling Addiction 

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, February 1, 2024 – The passing of two new gaming bills has again raised longtime concerns about gambling in the Turks and Caicos.

In an effort to better regulate the Gaming industry, two new pieces of legislation, The Gaming Control Amendment and the Gaming Machine amendment bill were passed in the House of Assembly on January 23rd allowing gaming taxes to be calculated from adjusted gross receipts and mandating a 30 percent tax limit for gaming machines.

The laws also gave casinos a 15-day limit each month to pay said taxes. While members generally agreed that the new regulations were necessary, some concerns were raised about the social issues related to gambling.

Alvin Garland, Opposition Appointed Member, said it was not in the best interest of Turks and Caicos residents. Not only was he displeased that the government brought the Gaming Control and Gaming Machine Amendment Bills as the first matters after the new year, he said it could harm locals.

“We are beginning to see  there is an increase in addictive gamblers in the Turks and Caicos, and instead of us bringing legislation to encourage them, we should be bringing legislation or finding ways to discourage Turks and Caicos Islanders from gambling.”

Garland referenced The Bahamas, who he said had strict gambling laws for its people, and stressed that gambling could still be profitable, even if it was directed only as a pastime for tourists, which had been the initial purpose of the Turks and Caicos first casino.

Another concern for Garland was that the profit from the Casinos and Gaming halls would not be going to Turks and Caicos islanders anyway.

“Individuals that profit from gaming in the Turks and Caicos are not Turks and Caicos Islanders,” he continued “ The two casinos, most of the gaming houses, if not all, are owned by foreigners. They make their money by Turks and Caicos Islanders gambling. the only way gaming establishments can make money is if the people who are gambling lose their money.”

Garland again raised the issue of potential social impacts.

“It is not an indictment on this government, but it’s an indictment on any government, that we should be doing more to discourage Turks and Caicos Islanders from gambling and that is just the reality of it. We do not want to be promoting gambling for our people.”

In response to the comments, Washington Misick, TCI Premier, who was leading the debate, maintained that there were protections for residents in the 2018 iteration of the bill.

“The Commission shall set aside specific funding which shall be used for the purpose of a program to deal with problem gaming and addictions, and the money shall be used for treatment of problem gaming and substance abuse and related research,”  Misick quoted as a rebuttal to Garland’s concerns.

The Premier also quoted another provision which mandated that gambling houses submit an annual compulsive and problem gambling plan.

The protections in Section 23 as read by the Premier were more geared toward those already engaging in gambling rather than prevention.

Harold Charles, Governor’s Appointed Member, also chimed into the debate with similar concerns. Citing the government’s use of Singapore as an example used in the creation of the bill he said, “In Singapore, they do not allow their residents to gamble, the only people who gamble are high net worth individuals.”

The Premier had, during the debate, said that Singapore’s example showed that effective regulation can strike the necessary balance.

Charles stressed that some Turks and Caicos residents had already become trapped in the system.

“There was a young man who approached me to tell  me he was in trouble he couldn’t pay his rent because he was addicted to gambling—-this is something that has really been bothering me because I know that before we didn’t allow our locals to gamble and we changed that and I don’t believe that that’s a good thing.”

Hon Charles urged the government to consider restricting individuals below a certain net worth from gambling in their legislation, as a caution for residents.

“We have a moral responsibility to look after and protect our people,” he stressed.

“That is an argument that could potentially strike at the heart of democracy,” Misick responded to the calls for banning gambling for certain residents though he maintained that government intervention was necessary in some cases.

“The issue of Turks and Caicos Islanders gambling is one that can be discussed in the public arena, if that is the will of the people of these islands,” he said

The Premier reminded that the members across the floor were free to bring a bill to the house to discuss who was allowed to gamble, but firmly maintained that the purpose of the current bills were to do nothing more than provide regulatory control of the industry.

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“Mad Max” Convicted of Murder

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#TurksandCaicos, April 23, 2024 – Blue Hills resident KENDALL RONDRE DEAN has been convicted of murdering JOSHUA SWANN.

Mr. Dean, also called “Maddie”, “Mad Max”, and “Dre”, was found guilty by a nine-member jury yesterday (April 22nd) in the Grand Turk Supreme Court.

Following the verdict, Mr. Dean was remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison, pending sentencing on 10th June 2024.

Based on the evidence presented, Mr. SWANN of Five Cays was shot multiple times about the body on Sunday, August 8th, 2021, while at North West Point, Providenciales.

Mr. Swann was transported to the Cheshire Hall Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Detectives of the Serious Crimes Unit received a report, and following intensive investigations and interviews, Mr. Dean was arrested and subsequently charged.

Shortly after the verdict, Deputy Commissioner of Police Rodney Adams said, “This conviction demonstrates the RTCIPF’s commitment to bringing to justice those who cause the most harm throughout our communities using illegal firearms.

“This is an example of the effective coordination of the various units across the Force in supporting the lead detective in bringing about this conviction. The RTCIPF is grateful for the information provided by witnesses who came forward.

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Airports Authority aims for 24-hour airport and announces Scholarship programme

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 19, 2024 – In an attempt to move to 24-hour-a-day operations Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) is steadily recruiting Air Traffic Controllers to work at the Providenciales/Howard Hamilton International Airport, according to Godfrey Smith, TCIAA CEO, reporting to the Appropriations Committee.

Speaking on April 8th Smith said a cabinet paper would be sent soon requesting six more Air Traffic Controllers to make round the clock operation at the Provo International possible and to open the airport in Grand Turk till 12 a.m.

Currently, 17 posts are filled and seven are vacant.

Smith was candid with his responses to recent industrial action from ATCs which led to resignations and firings.

“What we have to do is find systems to mitigate such actions and that has to start with filling these jobs, putting people in that want to work and doing right by people – and we always try to do right by our staff. Persons may not think that we are but we always do – we ain’t pick no fight,” he said in the meetings held at the NJS Francis building ahead of the National Budget Communication.

Smith indicated that recruitment was an issue across the board, ‘we need to find ways to recruit a little bit better’ he told the committee. Also in need of a push was capital spending or projects according to the CEO, who said the agency had ‘not been very good’ at meeting that mark but insisted they had recognized the issue and could do better.

A very important key performance indicator drawn up by the TCIAA is increasing passenger satisfaction at the Howard Hamilton International Airport. For the TCIAA part of this means a 30 percent increase in seating by Q2 of this year.

When queried on if they could even handle this increase the CEO said,

“The fact of the matter is we already have the capacity there. What we need is to make the service a bit better.”

Staff shortages have become such a frustrating issue that the TCIAA is instituting a scholarship program created by Authority Chairman, Selvyn Hawkins

“What the board wants to do is basically allocate $25,000 annually for a scholarship and they’ve approved it already.”

This process would cover tuition and all other costs for one student.

The student would return as a summer intern and other breaks to work at the TCIAA and upon graduation, assume a role at the company.

“We identify a particular skill we need, we go after it and we build capacity that is in a nutshell the nexus of the program,” Smith said.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) is allocated $49 million this financial year; over $20 million goes to salaries.

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Flow TCI offers Gigabyte Speeds to Customers

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Company delivers fastest speeds nationwide and boosts service reliability

 

PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS, APRIL 19th, 2024 – More connections, faster speeds and greater support for customers. This is the promise from communications and entertainment provider, Flow TCI, as it embarks on an initiative to provide households with enhanced connections, greater overall reliability and now, for the first time, speeds up to one gigabit person second.

FLOW TCI Country Manager, Joanne Missick shared: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. We listen to our customers and want to exceed their demands, so we are focused on delivering unmatched value with customer centric products and services that are future proof. Flow subscribers on our Fibre Extreme package can now access up to one gigabyte speeds and subscribers on our Fibre Plus and Fibre Max package, as of April 1st, are also now benefitting from up to 5x more speeds.”

This is third speed boost for Flow customers in the last two years. This comes under the umbrella of the the Company’s recently launched “Working for You” campaign, where technicians are going into the neighborhoods across the island to conduct repairs, decommission copper cables, and increase the brand’s visibility in local communities.

“To date several neighborhoods have been served by technicians and the company will continue to go across the islands to ensure each neighborhood receives personal attention. We recognize that over the past few months some customers have experienced issues with the quality and delivery of our services. This is not what we stand for. Flow remains committed to providing technology and innovation that enables growth and positively impacts lives”, says, newly appointed Head of Technical Operations, Simeon Thomas.

Thomas adds, “We have been closely monitoring and reviewing every aspect of our network and there is room for improvement across each of the islands. Where we find shortcomings, we are taking concrete actions and assigning our technicians to rapidly make all necessary adjustments and improvements for our customers”.

Flow has made significant investments in expanding and modernizing its infrastructure and delivering a more robust and reliable network paving the way for the country’s digital transformation.

For more information on speed increases visit https://www2.discoverflow.co/turks-and-caicos/price-adjustment-speed-increase on our website.

Thank you for your usual assistance in sharing our stories.

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