NASSAU: Following a vote by Bahamians to reject the legalization of web shop gambling and a national lottery, the government called on all operators of such games to close down their businesses with “immediate effect”.
“Failure to do so will leave all such web shop owners, operators and web shop gaming patrons exposed to arrest and criminal prosecution without further notice or warning,” said Prime Minister Perry Christie.
The results from last week’s referendum showed that Bahamians, by a margin of almost two-to-one, voted “no” to the questions “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.”
The referendum had been conducted in a campaign similar to a general election with the ruling Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) urging supporters to support the initiatives that Prime Minister Christie said would finalize a new source of government revenue and facilitate new areas for local employment.
The main opposition Free National Movement (FNM) had urged voters to reject the measure.
In his statement, Christie said that in keeping with his administration’s commitment to abide by the will of the electorate “it has now become necessary to effect the closure of all web-shop gaming operations in the Bahamas.
“Accordingly, all offending web-shop owners and operators are placed on notice that all their gaming operations, including all online gaming and the numbers games, must cease with immediate effect.”
Christie said the government expects all web shop owners and operators “will cooperate in giving effect to what I have outlined so as to thereby eliminate the need for the relevant law enforcement authorities to take coercive action to compel the necessary result”.