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Gambling Referendum To Be Held December 3

By SANCHESKA BROWN

Tribune Staff Reporter

sbrown@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Perry Christie said the referendum on web shop gaming will be held on December 3.

Mr Christie said the referendum will put to the Bahamian people the question as to whether they feel that so called “web cafe” or “web shop” gaming should be legalised and subject to strict licensing and bonding requirements.

Following the advice of UK specialists, the Prime Minister said the referendum will focus only on web shop gaming and a national lottery will not be included.

“It is no longer considered that a national lottery will be commercially viable at this time.

“Thus, lotteries will continue to be illegal for the indefinite future, unless of course, certificates of exemption are issued from time to time under the Lotteries and Gaming Act, as indeed has been the historical practice for special, single event purposes considered worthy by the competent authority, such as a church bazaar raffles and the like,” he said.

“Similarly, neither the extension of casino gambling nor the removal of the prohibition on casino gambling by Bahamian citizens and residents will be the subject of the forthcoming referendum. Thus, the conduct of casino gambling will continue to be unlawful for the indefinite future unless a Casino licence is issued in accordance with the Lotteries and Gaming Act - and I haste to add that no additional casino licences are contemplated at this time.”

Mr Christie said the government and the PLP would remain neutral on the referendum question. He said they would not campaign for or against either side, nor will they offer any encouragement for either a YES or NO vote.

The Prime Minster said on the day of the referendum each voter would be handed a ballot paper to mark “X” in either the YES or NO box, using the pencil provided.

“This marking will be done in the usual secrecy of the voter’s booth,” he said.

“Just as is done in a regular election, the voter will then fold his ballot paper and drop it in the ballot box provided. At the end of the balloting process, when the polls close, all the ballots will be counted at each polling station and the results will be publicly declared.

“Unlike a General Election where each voter casts his or her ballot for the candidate of his or her choice in the constituency in which the voter resides, the referendum will not be community based at all. Instead voters will be choosing to either answer yes or no to the same one question that all voters across the country will be answering.”

That question, according to the Prime Minister will be: “Do you support the legalisation and regulation of web shops?”

The Prime Minister also said the same persons who were eligible to vote in the last General Election, whether they voted or not, will be eligible to vote in the referendum as well.

As for persons who were not registered to vote, they have to register at least 10 days prior to the fixed date of the referendum.

Mr Christie said the Parliamentary Commissioner’s Office 
will be making public announcements on where new voters are 
to register, the location of the polling places and the procedural matters in connection with the referendum.

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