PM: Gambling Referendum Will Have Many Components
By Sasha Lightbourne
The Bahama Journal
The gambling referendum, which is expected to be held before the end of the year, will have many components to it, according to the prime minister.
Perry Christie told The Bahama Journal recently that he is considering a lottery component as well as casino regulations, which will all be part of the referendum when announced.
“I’m having detailed discussions with my advisors and we are doing this on all fronts with respect to improving and strengthening casino regulations and the kind of games they play and making us more competitive,” he said.
“At the same time we are focusing on the web operations as well. When I make the next communication it’s going to be a very serious one based on the concerns that my advisors have with respect to web operations especially if they are not regulated. I most certainly want the referendum to be held before the end of the year as well. I’m not changing that.”
Mr. Christie added, however, that he is concerned about the lottery component of the referendum.
“The only question I have is whether I have a working situation with the lottery,” he said.
“Is it feasible, given the size of our population and having to depend on the Americans, to do it because if it does that would mean they would take the money back to the United States. There is a compelling necessity though to do something about this issue and it will happen before 2013.”
President of the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC), Dr Ranford Patterson has accused the government of failing to take a position on the issue of gambling.
He said he felt it was because members fear that the impending gambling referendum could fail.
So far, the government has declined to publicly state a position on the matter.
All it has said is that the Bahamian people will be allowed free choice to vote for or against gambling.
Rev. Patterson has said, however, that in the lead up to voting, the BCC plans to clearly repeat its anti-gambling argument.
“The government needs to make a decision and state their case,” Rev Patterson said a few weeks ago.
“Let’s say this referendum is a disaster, who is going to take the responsibility for wasting taxpayer dollars and wasting time that could have been used on other more important things in this country. If this is such a major issue just do it.”
The BCC president said the government should also take note of the long term implications of gambling that could cause thousands of Bahamians’ regrets if the referendum did return more “yes” than “no” votes.
19 October 2012