A Response to Craig Flowers

Tuesday 15th, April 2014 / 09:11 Published by

gambling-referendum-vote-questionI write in response to the comments of Craig Flowers on a Guardian radio show last week. He suggested that those who voted against the regularization of web shop gaming essentially voted in favor of allowing numbers operations to “run rampant” and become open to possible infiltration by drug smuggling, money-laundering, and other illegal activities.

Flowers seemed to be suggesting that if we want to bring an end to this situation, we must legalize all numbers operations, regulate them strictly, and keep them under control.

To those who study formal logic, the type of argument put forward by Flowers is called a false dilemma – the incorrect suggestion that there is a choice between only two alternatives.

In fact, the legalizing of numbers is not an either/or question. It is not just a choice between a regulated and well-managed numbers industry, and the ‘wild wild west’ scenario we see today.

There is another choice, as I am sure Flowers knows. A third alternative, in which the web shops which have offered or allowed gaming on their premises are shut down and their owners prosecuted in connection with any and all violations of the law.

I am quite confident that this was the outcome desired by the vast majority of those who voted ‘No’ in the gaming referendum.

I for one, have nothing against gambling being legalized in The Bahamas. For one thing, having different standards for Bahamians and foreigners in any sphere of life is a close cousin to segregation.

I also believe in personal responsibility, and I don’t think it is the job of either the government or the church to prevent a grown man from ruining himself financially. Legislators are not babysitters.

At the same time, this question of personal responsibility must also extend to the numbers bosses themselves. I do not believe their activities are immoral, but a court should still decide whether or not they are illegal.

And until such a decision is handed down, following regularization, gambling should be a business that is open to all Bahamians, except those who have engaged in it in the past.

They have become very rich over the years thanks to very little competition, as law-abiding businessmen were reluctant to take part in what was perceived to be an illegal activity.

For this reason alone, even if they were to clear their names, numbers bosses should automatically go to the back of the line of those applying for a gaming license, and should be made to pay many millions in back-taxes before being allowed to take part.

By: Voltaire

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