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PLP Unfit To Govern

I never believed promises from some illegal numbers houses bosses that they would close down their illegal gaming operations if the people of The Bahamas voted against “regularizing” web shop gaming.  They said they would close the numbers houses following a no vote only because they were confident that they had bought a yes vote.  They have no shame in being seen to have lied to the public.

I was also doubtful that the government, led by Perry Christie, would cause web shops to close down their numbers business if the people voted no.  My doubts have now been realized.  The prime minister, camera shy for the first time in his life, issued a statement requesting all web shops to cease their illegal gaming activities.  And, the web shop operators went to court and obtained an injunction to stop the government from closing their shops.  I smell a rat.

Christie never requested them to close their shops but rather only to stop their illegal business.  Why Justice Jon Isaacs determined that an injunction was justified is for him to explain.  Perhaps the chief justice will address this or the Court of Appeal if the government appeals the injunction as it should with the greatest haste.  Noises from a complicit attorney general give me no comfort.

In any event, Christie has no authority to close shops.  He can only require the law enforcement agencies of our country to enforce the law.  The business license department of the Ministry of Finance can cause shop owners to close if they are in violation of the conditions attached to their business licenses.

Hence, a shop licensed to operate as a web shop in The Bahamas, that is to provide access to the Internet to the general public, is not licensed to facilitate Internet gaming or to act as a pay station for those who win at Internet gaming.  It is clear from the public admission of the web shop operators they have been acting as facilitators for web gaming and as pay stations to those who win.  They have gone to great lengths to inform the press of their licensed businesses in the Isle of Wight and in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  But their web gaming is not sanctioned by our law – in letter or intent.  The web shop operators, their lawyers, the courts and the Government of The Bahamas are all aware that this is the case.

But, now that the lawyers are involved we are in for a long haul.  One is reminded of the legal debate during the impeachment travails of former U.S. President Bill Clinton when grown men, supposed learned lawyers, argued over the meaning of the word “is”.

The Bahamas government must now act as it ought to have done months ago and introduce and pass comprehensive legislation which prohibits Internet and web shop gaming in The Bahamas.  There was no need for a referendum to authorize the government to do this but now the referendum has given the government cover.  The government must use the cover of the majority vote and make Internet gaming and web cafe gaming illegal in The Bahamas.

To those who seek to dismiss the results of the referendum by the low voter turnout, I need only remind that we live in a democracy.  Those eligible to vote who do not register and vote elect to be represented by the views of the majority who do exercise their right and vote.  The results of the referendum are clear.  If the prime minister now ignores the results, he must account to the Bahamian people for the waste of nearly $2 million of public money on a referendum, which was not required and whose results he may now seek to ignore.

The prime minister and his government are demonstrating by their actions that they set out to confuse and deceive the Bahamian people.  They are not fit to govern and ought to resign and call fresh elections.  Of course, they in their majority are not individuals with such principles and so I do not expect them to take that honorable position.

By: Kirkland Turner

Posted in Opinions

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