By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
DNA LEADER Branville McCartney yesterday said the government’s referendum questions “make it seem” like gambling and web shop gaming is already legal.
Speaking with The Tribune, Mr McCartney said the wording of the two questions on the ballot for the January 28 referendum raises a few legal concerns.
National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage revealed the highly anticipated questions Wednesday night.
The two questions are: “Do you support the regulation and taxation of web shop gaming” and “do you support the establishment of a lottery?”
However, Mr McCartney said the questions – particularly the first one – are not properly worded.
“There are some concerns. Firstly, the public was not informed as to where there questions will be two
distinct questions on the ballot or one question. Will we be voting for them separately? This is the problem the FNM had when they called a referendum they bundled it in one and people were confused. The public needs to know whether you can vote yes for one and no for the other if they so choose,” he said.
“Now as to the first question, it asks if we support the regularization and taxation of web shop gaming, but it said nothing about its legalization. The way the question is worded implies that it is already legal and the government is just trying to regularize it. It should read: ‘Do you support the legalization regularization and taxation of web shops?’ The way it is now, if the people vote no, the web shops can still run and operate how they are now, where is the democracy in that? What exactly are the regulations the public would be voting for, the government hasn’t announced them yet and the vote is three weeks away.”
Mr McCartney also said why he is happy , the government decided to add a second question on the ballot another “obvious” question is still missing.
He said:” I am glad that the government has included the question on the National Lottery, but I wonder what has changed their mind from the stance they took a few months back. They paid these foreigners to come here and give us all this advice saying a national lottery is not a good idea and then we still do it? They need to explain what caused the change. There is still one more question that needs to be added to the ballot, however. If we are going to deal with it we might as well do it properly. Whether Bahamians should be allowed to gamble in this country needs to be added. The Prime Minister missed a prime opportunity to wrap up this whole gambling thing once and for all.”