Police Uncertain About Web Shops
Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade refused to say whether police will shut down web shop gaming in The Bahamas now that Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett has lifted a conservatory order that protected the operations from any interference by authorities.
When pressed on the issue, Greenslade told The Nassau Guardian that “it’s a difficult situation”.
“I can not make that general statement because that would not be a correct statement to make,” he said when asked if police would take action against businesses engaged in web shop gaming.
However, he said the police force would uphold the law.
“Where a business is legitimately licensed and illegal activities are taking place, the police will take action,” he said.
“If a duly licensed premises in The Bahamas is operating contrary to the license that they have been issued and breaches of the law are occurring on their property, we will move to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
“That’s a commitment I can certainly give.”
Lawyers for a group of web shop operators secured the conservatory order from Senior Justice Jon Isaacs on January 30.
It came the morning after Prime Minister Perry Christie announced that web shop gaming cease.
Christie issued the directive after a majority of people who voted in a referendum on January 28 voted no to the taxation and regulation of web shop gaming and no to the establishment of a national lottery.
The lawyers have appealed Sir Michael’s ruling.
Asked whether he considered web shop gaming to be illegal, Greenslade said, “It’s a difficult issue. You might want to raise those questions at another level because if I’m not careful I will get into an arena that I should not be in.
“In the next few days…there will need to be lots of discussion around the issue and a need for clarification of the issues.
“For the police department to enter an arena to have a discussion which is outside of the enforcement of the law would certainly be contrary. This is not a very simple issue. There is far more to be said and done on the matter.”
National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage also spoke on the issue yesterday.
When asked what was the force’s next move as it regards web shops, he said, “The police force would act in accordance with the law, full stop.”
Explaining the process, Nottage said, “Firstly, the police would have to be provided with the order then they will get advice from the attorney general.
“It is not the minister’s job to tell the commissioner how to do their work. He will work in accordance with the law.”
However, Greenslade said yesterday that he is not awaiting advice from the AG.
Prior to the failed referendum, Greenslade told reporters that the police force had already developed a plan on how to deal with these operations whether the referendum passed or not.
“However, the vote goes we have our work cut out for us — whether people say no or whether people say yes — because the reality is whatever happens we’re going to have to look at how it’s managed and how it’s policed,” he said at the time.
“If it remains illegal then I’m going to have to go after it and that’s a lot of things to go after.”
By Krystel Rolle
Guardian Staff Reporter