NASSAU, Bahamas, Tuesday January 29, 2013 – Bahamians voted overwhelming in a national referendum on Monday to reject proposals legalising web-shop gambling and a national lottery.
Preliminary results showed that by a margin of almost two to one, the voters in this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country voted “No” to the questions on “Do you support the regulation and taxation of web shop gaming and Do you support the establishment of a National Lottery?
“This is a victory for the church,” said Dr. Ranford Patterson of the Bahamas Christian Council.
“We are excited and thanking God,” he added.
The referendum had been conducted in a campaign similar to a general election with the ruling Progressive Liberal party (PLP) urging supporters to give the thumbs up to the initiatives that Prime Minister Perry Christie said would finalize a new source of government revenue and will facilitate new areas for local employment.
The main opposition Free National Movement (FNM) had opposed the measure with former prime minister Hubert Ingraham leading the fight.
In a statement, PLP chairman Bradley Roberts said Bahamians had conducted themselves peacefully and with great respect for others as the referendum was held without incident.
“The Prime Minister was clear that his government would be guided by the results of the Referendum and the will of the people notwithstanding the low voter turnout. The people have spoken and have rejected the regulation of Game Shops and the establishment of a National Lottery.”
“As web shop gaming is currently illegal under Bahamian law, we expect that the government will allocate the necessary resources to enforce the law,” he added.
FNM leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said he was pleased with the outcome.
“I am very very happy that the Bahamian people have spoken. I congratulate both the Bahamian people and the church and this has galvanised the church and the Bahamian people will realise how important the church is to our society,” he said adding that the defeat also signals that Prime Minister Christie was “playing with democracy.