November 07, 2012
Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday he is "wrestling" with the decision not to include a national lottery in the highly anticipated gaming referendum. He also revealed that UK consultants had not provided the government with an official report - only advice, despite previously saying that there would be a report.
Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet Mr Christie said it is a difficult decision to make because he promised it to the Bahamian people on two separate occasions. “Everything to do with this matter is continuing and I will tell you why, based on advice I indicated that I was advised that it would be appropriate not to go ahead with the lottery and I have sort of been wrestling with that ever since, because I put it in the Speech from the Throne and the Budget communication that followed immedialty after the election,” he said.
“So maybe some people are concerned and confused as to why it is not there and so it is a matter where we are going to make the right decision because I think we have to give sufficient notice to people to understand what they have to answer.” The Prime Minister also said the UK consultants, who were advising the government on gaming, did not present the government with an official report. He said: “It was never a specific report.
It’s continuing matters where discussions are had, etc ,so it is not a physical report. There are three or four pages of advice that you get from time to time. So I do not understand the question of whether there is a report to be released. “If you wish to have me make the consultants available at an appropriate time, I will so you can talk to them but I mean it is what it is.....but with respect to a physical report , they wrote five, six or seven different letters to us, but no report.” Last month, speaking on a radio talk show, Mr Christie said within the next two weeks, the consultants are expected to hand over a report for the government’s consideration. That report will signal a referendum date.
“Overall,” he said, “what I anticipate is to receive a report in the immediate future sometime within two weeks that I will give consideration to and then take to the government for its consideration, then I will set a date for the referendum so that the proponents and opponents to the question, that will be framed, will have ample time. I have indicated that God’s willing I would wish this to take place before the end of the year. “Therefore they know that time begins to run after the 15th of October, but I will give them a reasonable time to prepare.
The consultancy has demonstrated to us that we have to be very particular in ensuring that the people of the Bahamas, who are going to vote, will understand clearly what they are voting for or they’re not voting for.” In the House of Assembly last week, Prime Minister Perry Christie said the referendum will put to the Bahamian people the question as to whether web shop or web cafe gaming should be legalized and subject to strict licensing and regulatory supervision. He also indicated that a national lottery will not be included in the referendum. The question of whether or not Bahamians will be allowed to gamble in local casinos will also not be a part of the vote. The referendum will be held on December 3.
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