Categorized | National News

Gaming Bill Debate Delayed

Debate on the much talked about Gaming Bill has again been postponed.

Parliamentarians were expected to begin debate on the proposed legislation today, but that plan was shelved.

The Bahama Journal understands that House members will instead open debate on the National Tripartite Council Bill.

An inside source yesterday insisted the government had never set a date to begin the debate; however, during Club Med’s Heads of Agreement signing in San Salvador last week, Prime Minister Perry Christie indicated that the much anticipated debate would begin today.

In a release yesterday, Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman, Darron Cash questioned whether the delay was a sign of disorder or disunity.

Mr. Cash further charged that “given the strength of his parliamentary majority, the fact that the prime minister is afraid to start debate on the Gaming Bill suggests that Cabinet mutiny is a real possibility.”

“As prime minister, he is unable to bring the Gaming Bill to parliament without widespread revolt by the handful of backbenchers and quite possibly a degree of verbal mutiny by a few Cabinet ministers – in clear violation of a central tenet of Cabinet government. The delay in the debate is apparently intended to give Mr. Christie a little time to do some horse trading to get his MPs back in line,” Mr. Cash said.

“The stew in which the prime minister finds himself is of his own making…After failing to deliver a referendum win, the prime minister then had to deliver on his government’s promise to modernise the law and regulations that govern the gaming industry. After his typical late again delivery of the revamped bill, the government’s inability to start the debate at the appointed time raises a lot of questions about the extent of the prime minister’s grip on the government. He appears to have lost control.”

As is, the Gaming Bill is intended to modernise gaming in the country, but primarily for foreigners, as it does not make provisions for Bahamians to gamble in local casinos.

The proposed law would introduce an entirely new mobile and online gaming segment to local resorts’ gaming offerings, allowing The Bahamas to tap into what is projected to be a $100 billion industry by 2015.

A growing number of Bahamians are against the idea of the government proceeding with the bill in its present form.

In fact, opponents have even created an advertisement stressing the fact that they will not support legislation that does not give the same ownership opportunities as foreigners.

“It’s time to give Bahamians a chance,” the commercial charges.

Meantime, two government MPs, namely Tall Pines representative, Leslie Miller and Gaming Board Chairman, Dr. Andre Rollins have already expressed concerns over the bill’s “discriminatory nature.”

Prime Minister Christie has not said if his government would withdraw or change the bill if the majority of Parliamentarians voted against it.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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