Categorized | National News

Wilchcombe: Get Serious About Gambling

As the debate over amending the laws to allow Bahamians to gamble in the country intensifies, a top Christie cabinet member weighed in on the issue yesterday hinting at the administration’s support for the current law being revised.

Tourism Minister Obie Wilchombe said that the time has come for Bahamians to adopt a consistent position on the issue and decide once and for all how they want to deal with legalising gambling.

“I am one of those who has long held the view that it is hypocritical of us to say on the one hand that we don’t believe in it but every day it happens and Bahamians are doing it every single day and [every number] house is identified,” the minister said.

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) during its campaign promised to hold a referendum within its first 100 days in office to determine whether gambling in the country should be extended to Bahamians.

The Christie administration says the referendum will take place before the end of the year.

Views on the divisive issue have been mixed with the strongest opposition coming from the religious community.

The Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) has opposed gambling on the basis that it is destructive to the moral and social makeup of the country.

However, Mr. Wilchombe said while it is important to take into consideration the characteristics that make The Bahamas unique, the other reality is that gambling exists in the country.

“The truth is that we have to be a bit more honest about what we do and we can’t send messages to this country that we’re against what amounts to a crime if we know something is illegal but we’re allowing it – we’re licencing it and we’re allowing it to continue,” he said.

“I have a simple view… we’re either serious about it or let’s put on the books heavy penalties that will stop people from it.”

Recently Kerzner President and Managing Director George Markantonis said that Atlantis would gladly welcome Bahamians into its casinos if the government amends the laws to allow Bahamians to gamble.

“We follow the rules of the country and as I’ve said before if it is ever legalised for locals, we’d love to have them in our businesses as I know so would know so our colleagues at Baha Mar and probably in Bimini and wherever else we have gaming,” Mr. Markantonis said.

“But I don’t anticipate this is likely to be approved in the short-term. Nonetheless we are just spectators in the process.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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