Categorized | National News

Christian Council Disappointed In Gaming Decision

The Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) yesterday expressed disappointment that the government has decided to regularise web shop gaming despite Bahamians voting against it in last year’s referendum and warned that its effects will be disastrous.

BCC President Reverend Dr. Ranford Patterson even went as far as saying that he will not support any further referenda put forth by the government including the constitutional referendum expected to take place later this year.

Last year, the ‘No’ vote won the referendum with more than 50,000 Bahamians voting in support of shutting down web shops. However, to date, those shops have remained open with even new stores being added.

In the House of Assembly Wednesday Tourism and Gaming Minister Obie Wilchombe delivered on a promise he made several weeks ago to push legislation forward tabling web shop gaming and accept the backlash from the Church.

“When you are going to throw us on the side and believe that we don’t play a significant role then you are mistaken…we do,” Dr. Patterson said. “The government had no plans for a ‘No’ vote – none, because they didn’t expect the church to rise up.

“I asked the question of someone the other day – if the vote had gone the other way would we be where we are today and the answer was, ‘No’…there would be no question. So [are] 58,000 people stupid?”

Dr. Patterson also took exception to Minister Wilchombe’s comments describing the Church’s role as being “to preach and to teach,” and said historically the Church has always played in role in all facets of this country.

“I thought it was very interesting that all of a sudden now our job is only to teach and preach,” Dr. Patterson said. “We’ve been actively involved not just in the teaching and preaching but also in helping and supporting the work of our governments over the years. So now it’s interesting that the only thing that we are good for is to preach and teach [and] the government will do what the government wants to do.”

He called the government’s decision to move forward with legalising web shops dangerous and said it shows a lack of regard for democracy and the voices of the Bahamian people.

“Why come to me for my advice and I give it and you determine that my advice isn’t worth anything,” he said. “I prefer you not to come to me just do what you want to do.

“I am disappointed in you coming to me to get my opinion and I give you my opinion and my opinion means nothing.”

The legislation is expected to be tabled in the House of Assembly on July 1 in time for the start of the fiscal year.

Dr. Patterson said even though web shop gaming is likely to be legalised the Church’s position on gambling in the country is unequivocal.

“The Church has always stood diametrically opposed to any form of gambling in this country,” he said. “We will continue to be the Church on July 2 as we are today.

“The Church has always been good at picking up the pieces and the Church will continue to be there to pick up the pieces for those who fall through the cracks. But we cannot support the legalisation of numbers in The Bahamas because we see too many of our people hurting.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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