Categorized | National News

Opposition Reacts To Gambling Changes

Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said the Christie administration has not gone far enough in explaining to the Bahamian people exactly what it is trying to achieve with the gambling referendum and the legal framework that will follow.

While in the House of Assembly yesterday, Prime Minister Perry Christie elaborated on his decision to postpone the referendum to January 28, 2013.

Bahamians were originally slated to head to the polls on December 3.

Dr. Minnis was not allowed to respond to Mr. Christie’s statement.

As a result, Opposition members held a news conference while the House was on a five-minute suspension.

He congratulated the government for pushing the date back and addressing Bahamians’ concerns that the referendum was too rushed and that the legal right of the government to hold a non-constitutional referendum had to be addressed by legislation before it could be lawfully held.

“I also wish to congratulate the government upon having, in one respect, moved closer to the position of the former Free National Movement (FNM) administration, which had also proposed and drafted legislation for a national lottery . . .,” Dr. Minnis said.

“The prime minister will now have to explain the inherent inconsistency between a national lottery, which is ordinarily owned and run by the government, and privately-owned web cafés. Surely they will not be able to sell competing numbers from foreign lotteries? And what will be the government’s position on possibly illegal internet casino gambling, under international law? No doubt the government will be able to answer these questions as persuasively and reliably as it has dealt with the issue of the legality of a non-constitutional referendum prior to today.”

He said the former FNM Government’s position was that any change in the gambling laws would be put to a vote in a referendum.

“It has always been our policy in government, and now in Opposition, that there should be a consistent insistence upon due and appropriate public consultations in advance of any vote, that there should be full and frank disclosure of exactly what the government would do in the event of a “yes” vote, and that ordinary Bahamians should have as much information as possible in advance of them being advised to make any decision on the matter,” Dr. Minnis said.

“The events and contradictory public pronouncements of the prime minister over the past several weeks fell woefully short of the standards that an FNM Government would have demanded of itself and which leadership deficit compelled me to publicly take issue with the faulty legal process proposed by the government, the lack of any reliable or impartial information on critical issues such as fairness, due diligence, ownership and full public disclosure of all relevant issues.”

Dr. Minnis explained that his party is also concerned about fair play during the process, as the prime minister has already announced that of the eight established web shop operations, only “two or three” would eventually be licenced.

“Operators would naturally be concerned to know exactly what the fair, transparent and objective standards would be in determining whose businesses would be permitted to continue and whose businesses would be forcibly closed down,” he said.

“Hence the Opposition requested and the Bahamian people would expect that those fair, transparent and objective standards, to be contained in subsidiary legislation, would be published well in advance of any vote on the matter. Further, the government should consider whether or not a better course of action would be to design a more inclusive legal regime which would not be open to any criticism or any possible suggestion of favouritism and special treatment for some, but not others.”

He explained that ordinary Bahamians would want to be assured that they or their children would receive the same, fair, transparent and objective considerations as others who now appear, rightly or wrongly, to be in a more privileged position.

“We note that the government has moved an amendment to the Constitutional Referendum Act, but it must be said that merely amending the law to allow a non-constitutional referendum is not enough to surmount the legal challenge posed by an existing law which specifically prohibits private licences,” Dr. Minnis explained.

“Again, the government appears to be hurriedly rushing through a process without having fully considered all the legal ramifications. We trust that this government is not about to again embark on another bungled up process which is tripped up by unconsidered legal obstacles. The question of who will own these legalised gambling businesses is a critical one, since ordinary Bahamians should be fully informed of whether they are being asked to vote to grant tens of millions, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars each year in legalised profits to go to a small handful of people.”

Dr. Minnis said the need for full disclosure of the intentions of the government in this matter is paramount.

“Full disclosure of those who may have made monetary donations to political parties is also important,” he said.

“I can unequivocally state that the FNM as an organisation did not accept any donations of money from any web shop owners. I cannot speak for individual candidates. But the policy of the FNM on this matter was inflexible, that as an organisation we would not solicit, or accept any political donations from web shops. And we did not. We would confidently expect the same forthrightness from the governing party.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

One Response to “Opposition Reacts To Gambling Changes”

  1. selahlee says:

    A loyt of this is only “noise in the market.” “The price of the fish” is not even alluded to, much less, explained. What EXACTLY is it that is being discussed? What is the ESSENCE of the issue?
    Here is my “five cents:”

    “True: gambling – in the FORM of GAMING – is INHERENTLY immoral and therefore, according to Biblical and CHRISTIAN standards, a sinful activity. Thus, theologically speaking: It is IMPOSSIBLE to gamble in the true meaning of that term and NOT sin!;

    Gambling in its form as “gaming – a game of CHANCE” – is based entirely on GREED, Avarice and Covetousness in some form and requires no skill or intelligence. Regardless of what some say, the ONLY reason why people gamble is because they want to win – without working. If you take the WINNING possibility out of gambling, no one will gamble “only for fun or entertainment,” or even “for charity.”

    Additionally, gamblers want to win BIG, more than what they wager. No one would “gamble” in they knew that they would only “win” what they wagered! This lust, desire or “hope” to get more than what one is willing to pay for, and what does not belong to them, is either covetousness, avarice or greed in one form or another, which leaves FAITH in God completely out of the picture.

    Thus, it is IMPOSSIBLE for any one to “Gamble” in the true sense of that term, and NOT demonstrate these IMMORAL vices, whether they realize it or not. The act of “true” gambling is IMMORAL by its very nature or ONTHOS.

    Here is a PRECISE definition of “pure” gambling when seen as “a GAME of CHANCE.”;

    “Gambling is the action a person takes in a deliberate attempt to secure the wealth or possessions of someone else that is worth more that what the person is willing to pay to the other person, who mutually agrees to the same arrangement, based upon the outcome of an event over which neither has control.”

    The Government and the proponents of UNIVERSALLY legalizing this immoral vice in the Bahamas are seeking to create a nation that will become a “disgrace” to the rest of the world, rather than one that is characterized by “righteousness” as promised in the preamble of our constitution to “respect Christian principles.”



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