Consequences of Ignoring the Will of The People

Tuesday 11th, March 2014 / 09:39 Published by

gambling-lotteryThe government is moving ahead with permitting web shops and allowing Bahamians to legally gamble in some form, it seems. Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe made the vague announcement of the government’s intent last week. The details of the proposal have not yet been disclosed.

Parliament has always had the right to amend the Lotteries and Gaming Act in order to permit Bahamians and legal residents to gamble. But instead the Christie administration put forward a non-binding referendum in January of last year to solicit the opinions of Bahamians on the controversial issue.

Fewer than 50 percent of eligible Bahamians voted in that poll. Of that number a majority opposed regulating web shops and the creation of a national lottery. Conservative forces such as the church have long opposed legalizing gambling for Bahamians. They won that vote.

We think the administration assumed Bahamians would support the referendum so that it would have political cover to legalize web shops for the friends of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) – the web shop owners. That did not happen and the status quo of open illegality remained.

The PLP has a majority of 31 to seven in the House of Assembly. If the whip is on the governing side would easily be able to pass its gambling provision. The decision, however, to ignore the vote of the people in that referendum is likely to have far-reaching consequences.

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