By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government “should regulate the numbers industry to bring it under taxation and control” former New Covenant Baptist Church Bishop Simeon Hall reiterated yesterday.
Despite claims by opponents of legalised gaming that the move would hike up crime in the country, Bishop Hall insisted that violent acts stand the same chance of increase with a unanimous ‘no’ vote.
His comments came in response to the widespread criticism of his public support of the Vote Yes Campaign on Saturday night.
The campaign has held several events in the past weeks and intends to continue in the lead-up to the January 28 referendum.
“The reality,” Bishop Hall said, “is that almost half the Bahamian population engages in this practice. Of course, its popularity does not make it right, but it’s time for us, as progressive citizens, to move forward and regulate this practice.
“Many who have openly criticised me seem to suggest that my support for the referendum is the promotion of gambling. No one needs to promote this industry – it is here, and we should regulate it.
“I take strong exception to those who say because I say I will vote yes I have done something wrong – sinful or immoral.
“The government of our Bahamas has the right to govern all the Bahamians – Christian and non-Christian – and every Bahamian has the right to say yes or no on this issue.”
Since going public with a pro-gambling position, the Bishop also claimed that other prominent men of the cloth have “damned me and my family to destruction and hell”.
While both “no” and “yes” campaigners have said they intend to educate the electorate, Bishop Hall is now calling for a national debate to help those
who maybe undecided arrive at healthy conclusion.
“Some persons and pastors have sought to approach this issue from a purely moral or Biblical perspective, indeed as we all should. How can someone seeking to make a position on moral or biblical grounds demonise and denigrate other believers who hold a different position?
“This is laughable and persons who were apt to vote no come January 28 are now saying they will vote yes because they can see the fallacy in some of the no vote proponents.”
He called on members of both “vote yes” and “vote no” camps to allow Bahamians the opportunity to come to their own conclusions.