Pastors: Prizes Intended To Sway Voters

People who play numbers will get a chance to win more than just money this Christmas.

Some numbers bosses are offering houses, cars and other grand prizes.

But Pastor Mario Moxey of Bahamas Harvest Church and Pastor Lyall Bethel of Grace Community Church said they think the numbers bosses are attempting to gain support.

But a former numbers house executive dismissed claims of bribery yesterday.

However, the pastors said it’s no coincidence that the grand offerings have come ahead of next month’s referendum on gambling.

“I think the Bahamian people see through their gimmick and see it just as a gimmick,” Moxey said. “They’re trying to buy votes.

“In one sense it’s their attempt to relay to the general public that they are good samaritans, when in fact they are trying to legitimize a behavior that most Bahamians see as immoral.”

The Nassau Guardian reported previously that the number houses are sweetening the pot.

According to Levin Wilson, a former executive at Asue Draw, at least four major web cafes are now offering grand

He said one numbers house is offering a house and another is offering several prizes, including cash of up to $1 million, a house and a car.

According to Wilson, another is offering cash and cars, and another major numbers house will raffle cars.

He explained that once someone purchases a number for a minimum of $5, the person’s name is entered into a bag for a chance to win a grand prize.

Wilson said individual numbers houses will draw the winning names on separate days.

“It’s a very competitive market,” he said. “And everyone is trying to come up with ways to increase market share.

“I think that’s the reason the web cafes are doing this at this time.

“If they wanted to buy votes, why wouldn’t they just use the cash and get more mileage on the money? It doesn’t make sense for them to spend $250,000 on a house for one person when they can share that among a lot of people. That just doesn’t make sense. Think about it.”

Over the last several years the market has been saturated with web cafes.

Even with the grand prizes, Pastor Moxey said he thinks the referendum will fail.

“I don’t think it will have an effect on the votes,” he said. “On referendum day, they will vote on their conscience.”

Meantime, the “vote yes” campaign is gathering steam with several television and radio ads being played in heavy rotation.

Moxey said the “Save The Bahamas” campaign, which is headed by the Bahamas Christian Council, also has major support and will gain more traction in the new year.

The referendum will be held on January 28.

By Krystel Rolle
Guardian Staff Reporter