Citizens For Justice Calls For Web-Shops Closure

Monday 08th, July 2013 / 08:42 Published by

Citizens For Justice, headed by Bishop Walter S. Hanchell, is demanding answers concerning the blatant rejection of the will of the Bahamian people and failure by the government of the Bahamas and the police to aggressively enforce the gambling laws of the Bahamas.

“We would like to know why the will of the people is being frustrated. The gambling referendum was convincingly won in January by citizens who voted overwhelming against legalizing and regulating the illegal numbers racket and a national lottery. Gambling has wreaked havoc on families and the business community. Almost six months after the “Yes Vote” was defeated, web-shop owners are still expanding their illegal gambling operations as more branches are being opened each month. They have totally ignored an order by no less than the Prime Minister to shut down or face arrest and prosecution. The Bahamian people are appalled that web-shops are still open and again call on the authorities to shut them down.

The silence of those elected to uphold the laws of the Bahamas and the failure of the Royal Bahamas Police Force to act, have left  many law-abiding citizens pondering this situation. The police is mandated to enforce all laws of the Bahamas without fear or favour. The public has known for years that web shops operate as casinos without gambling licenses and  during the campaign leading up to the referendum, owners of web-shops openly admitted that their businesses involve gambling and they advertised their services in various media as though they were legal enterprises to the dismay of the majority of Bahamians.

According to the Gaming Act, no business is permitted to operate gaming in the Bahamas without a gaming license. The gaming laws have been blatantly rejected. Web-shops have business licenses and shop licenses, which were issued by the relevant authorities, but these licenses do not authorize them to engage in  illegal gambling on their premises. If a nightclub engages in activities for which they are not licensed, the police are called in and they are shut down as we have seen recently. Why are these illegal enterprises allowed to remain open despite the fact that the Chief Justice has removed the Conservatory Order that prevented the police from shutting them down? Why is the office of the Attorney General dragging its feet in this very important case?

Web-shops continue to drain our already depressed economy in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma and many of our Family Islands, yet they are allowed to prosper at the detriment of families desperate to survive this seemingly never ending recession. While Bahamians are crying out for jobs and opportunities, web-shop owners continue to rake in millions of dollars as legal businesses struggle to stay open. They have an unfair advantage over other businesses and the level field must be levelled. Gambling will always be morally wrong no matter how much revenue is derived from it.

Citizens For Justice is opposed to all forms of gambling including casino gambling. The negative effects far outweigh any benefits as can be seen in the destructive behaviour of gambling addicts and the  domino affect it has on their families and our communities. We are opposed to the new casino in Bimini which will certainly create many jobs for residents but this tranquil island paradise will be changed forever as in all jurisdictions where gambling is legalized. We are calling on persons who voted “No” and others to voice their displeasure on events that have transpired and demand that immediate action be taken to correct this longstanding issue. An attorney representing the major web-shops hinted recently that this case may drag on for years. This is unacceptable.

With regards to job loss for the workers in illegal gambling, Citizens For Justice is also concerned about this and is appealing to gambling operators to establish legal businesses and rehire all of their workers who would become displaced. It has been speculated that web-shops owners may be in possession of millions of dollars which have not entered the banking system in the Bahamas. The government of the Bahamas should give web-shop operators approval to invest their ill-gotten wealth in businesses that would stimulate the economy and create jobs and opportunities for Bahamians.”

Citizens For Justice

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