Members of the advocacy group Citizens For Justice are extremely pleased with the overwhelming referendum victory for Bahamians who oppose gambling in the Bahamas. “We know that this was a victory for righteousness and truth; a victory for God and the Bahamian people in these dark and challenging times. This is a new day as the Spirit of God hoovers over the Bahamas. The nation as a whole including the gambling cartel, webshop workers and persons who gamble must all examine what God wants for us and what He is saying to us. This is the time now for Bahamians to begin the process of healing after such a divisive referendum. Too many Bahamians are hurting and it is time to fix this problem once and for all and address other national concerns such as unemployment, crime and illegal immigration.
Bishop Walter Hanchell, Chairman of the non-political Citizens For Justice, who initiated the call for rejecting the legalization of the illegal numbers racket stated, “The Bahamas Christian Council’s “Save the Bahamas” campaign took over the fight with all of its resources and led an effective and successful battle against legalized gambling. We supported all of their efforts and will continue to support them particularly as the nation moves forward in healing. We commend the president, Rev. Ranford Patterson and his leadership team of Pastor Lyall Bethel, Pastor Alfred Stewart and Pastor Mario Moxey along with all of the persons who worked behind the scenes. The Christian church is stronger and more united and will continue to oppose ungodly legislation and any and all evil in our nation.”
Bahamians understand quite well that gambling is destructive to families and our society and voted against the legalization of both webshop gambling and a national lottery. Prime Minister Perry Christie took the Bahamian people for granted in his efforts to legalize gambling for Bahamians. The people have totally rejected this idea. Many have said that Mr. Christie has been disingenuous on this matter as his words and actions did not agree. No information was given to the Bahamian people from the government with regards to the devastation gambling has had and will continue to have on our nation. The focus was on revenue and decriminalizing gambling for the benefit of the gambling cartel and other special interest groups. This was totally rejected by the people. We call on the government to meet with the webshop owners, advise them that their licenses to operate will be cancelled and since the infrastructure is in place, legalized businesses can be started in their shops. Should the webshop owners reject this proposal then the the police should arrest the owners and shut down their shops.
The Prime Minister has pledged on a number of occasions to shut down the illegal numbers racket operated in hundreds of webshops throughout the country should the people vote against it. The people have spoken clearly and now the Prime Minister must do the right thing and shut them down expeditiously. Gambling for Bahamians in the Bahamas is illegal and must not be treated differently than any other illegal operation. Illegal street vendors were recently arrested by police for breaking the law while at the same time illegal gambling operations flaunt themselves openly without any resistance from the police. This is not justice. All criminal activity should be dealt with fairly and without favoritism or political interference.
We must live together in peace and harmony without the gambling culture that has eroded the moral fabric of our nation. The gambling referendum was about the morality and integrity of a complicit nation that has imploded because of lawlessness, corruption and compromise. Crime and increased social ills are the consequences of gambling. The negative effects far outweigh any benefit the nation may receive from legal or illegal gambling and the government is quite aware of this.
Many of our people have been drawn away from God because of their lusts coupled with injustices, negative influences, oppression, political patronage and poverty resulting from high unemployment in this prolonged depressed economy. Too many Bahamians have lost their faith in God and have trusted in politicians, gambling and in their luck. We have forgotten that God is a jealous God and will not tolerate our rebellion and refusal to trust Him in the way that He desires. As a unique people who has feared and reverenced God for generations, the people of the Bahamas have worshipped the god of materialism and money and turned away from the God of heaven. It is now time for each of us to look inwardly and return to God and godly values. Righteousness still exalts the nation and sin is still a shame to any people. The nation must now listen to the message of the Christian church, take heed to the gospel of Christ, repent of our sinfulness and return a merciful and loving God.
Bishop Walter S. Hanchell
Chairman, Citizens For Justice