STATEMENT BY DNA LEADER
Three weeks before the Referendum on Gaming, the Christie Administration has revealed the questions to be posed on the 28th January 2013. In a National Address to the nation last night, the Honorable Dr. Bernard Nottage said that the two questions are: Do you support the regulation and taxation of web shop gaming and do you support the establishment of a National Lottery?
There are concerns with these questions as presented.
Firstly, are the two questions going to be on the same ballot or will there be two distinct questions? This has to be clarified and we ask the government to clarify their position as soon as possible.
Secondly, in connection with the question…Do you support regulation and taxation of web shop gaming, this question presupposes the legalization of web shops. The question should have been, “Do you support the legalization, regulation and taxation of web shop gaming?” The question for the Christie Government is what about the legalization of web shops and its operations? This concern seems to have been overlooked by the government.
The fact of the matter is that no matter how you vote in connection with this question, there is a predetermined position. If you vote yes…then regulation and taxation would be in place. If you vote no…then web shops and their operations would remain in the same position as they were prior to the referendum. I ask the government to kindly answer this particular concern. What happens to the web shops if there is a no vote for its regulation and taxation?
In addition, what regulations are we, the Bahamian people voting for? This government has not informed the Bahamian people of this information. Do they intend to do so before the referendum? I think it is necessary. Further, how would taxation be effected? We have no answers to this! If it is regulated, are there going to be any sanctions placed on those who were operating unregulated for all these years? What would be the preconditions to those who wish to be regulated?
In connection with the question on the establishment of a National lottery, what has caused the Prime Minister to change his mind on this question? You would indeed remember that during the election campaign the Prime Minister said that they would hold a referendum on whether there ought to be a national lottery. After the election, the Prime Minister said that he consulted with a foreign entity and was advised that a national lottery would not work in the Bahamas. This certainly is indicative that the Prime Minister did not do his research prior to the election and during the campaign said certain things for political expediency! Now the Prime Minister has placed the question of the National Lottery on the ballot. The question we, as Bahamians, would like to know is what changed the Prime Minister’s mind. We have not todate seen the report as mentioned previously, we are not aware of how much we, the Bahamian people, had to pay for the said report and no explanation has been given to the Bahamian people as to why the Prime Minister is now rejecting the conclusion of the report. The Prime Minister was elected by the Bahamian people to act on their behalf and in the best interest of the Bahamian people. We are entitled to know the answers to these questions!
Finally, since we are dealing with gaming, the question as to whether Bahamians and permanent residents ought to be allowed to gamble in the casinos should have been a consideration by way of referendum.
The government has a lot of questions to answer and again has missed a prime opportunity to properly enhance our democracy!