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What The Web Shop Employees And Patrons Say After The Vote

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Security guard Damas Sainvil at Island Luck.

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Cashier Kenneva Goddard.

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Security guard Felix Rolle.

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Heidi Cadet, store manager at FML.

By PAUL G TURNQUEST

Chief Reporter

pturnquest@tribunemedia.net

WEB SHOPS throughout the country remained open yesterday despite the resounding “no” vote in Monday’s gambling referendum.

The Tribune visited a number of these establishments and spoke with employees and patrons. Many persons expressed their disappointment in the Bahamian electorate, whom they feel did not consider the “human impact” their vote would have.

Heidi Cadet, the store manager at FML’s Bridge Plaza location, said her job is important to her. The single mother of two said she currently is renting an apartment, but had dreams of one day owning her own piece of land in New Providence.

She said these dreams, at least for the time being, are now in limbo.

“This job has been good to me. I have never had a bad day here.

“I was here since 2005. I watched as this company grew from punching numbers to where we are today. I am highly disappointed in yesterday’s vote because I don’t know what is next.”

After Monday’s vote, Ms Cadet said employees at their location, and at web shops in general, are concerned that any minute now, police could break in the doors and raid them.

“I hope the Prime Minister will make the right choice. I’m prepared to live with whatever decision he makes, but the big question is, is he willing to help us if they shut us down? We can’t go to the church,” she said.

As for the referendum, Ms Cadet and other web shop employees said they felt the process was “rushed” and not properly managed.

“People didn’t know what they were voting on. To most employees this is their only means of employment. If I were to lose my job, I do not have any other options,” she said.

Echoing these sentiments was Felix Bethel, a security guard at Bahama Dreams’ head office on East Bay Street.

With a wife and 14 children, Mr Bethel said his job with Bahama Dreams is the only thing “saving him” right now.

“Without this, I don’t know where I would be. There are zero opportunities out there,” he said.

Mr Bethel said he is currently in court for child support, having been in arrears some $4,000. His job he said, is the only thing keeping him out of jail.

“I can’t go to the church and say lend me $4,000. This is not a game,” he said.

Another employee at Island Luck’s office on Bay and Armstrong Streets said she has been employed at the company for two and a half years now. However, after Monday, she said she is unsure how much longer that will be the case.

Wishing not to be identified, the employee said Monday’s vote “hurt a lot of us.”

“We don’t know if they will keep us open or closed. We are only hoping for the best.”

Damas Sainvil, a security guard at the same location, said he’s been employed now with Island Luck for three years.

Having voted “Yes” in the referendum, Mr Sainvil said he was “surprised” at the outcome.

“If you don’t have a job, you can’t live here. You have to eat. You cannot live like a dog,” he said.

With two children and a wife, Mr Sainvil said he is the sole provider in his home. He said he cannot imaging what he will do if he were to lose his job.

Temra Russell, a cashier at Bahama Dreams, told The Tribune that she felt “betrayed” by the Bahamian people.

“I feel some Bahamians don’t have your best interest at heart, taking bread out of people’s mouth,” she said.

Ms Russell’s co-worker, Kenneva Goddard, said she was scared watching the votes being counted on Monday night.

“That was my job they were dealing with. I don’t think people understood the questions. And people didn’t understand or care about what would happen to us, the employees. If I didn’t have this job I would be at home. I would have to start all over again,” she said.

Comments

Ironvelvet 7 years, 8 months ago

I appreciate an article like this, giving us pictures and quotes to increase the sympathy that obviously everyone must have for their fellow man, no matter how you voted. I do pray that they do eventually find legitimate gainful employment.

I maintain this does not make it right to be employed by an illegitimate business. This is being paraded in our faces because of the length of time and the mass number of people that have chosen to be employed as such. I understand that the argument remains that some people do not have a choice particularly in these hard economic times, but what about the employee who states that she has been employed since 2005, long before the crash of the economy.

I maintain that if we are to be a country of laws and democracy we must as Bahamians stop looking at laws as suggestions. Otherwise, how do we expect to live in a peaceful society where laws are open to individual interpretation, we would be demoted to a society of lawlessness where everyone runs amuck. A society that in my opinion would be hell on Earth.

I suggest and hope that these workers use this time that the injunction has granted them and find other means of legitimate employment. Use this time as a blessing before you are without a job and no back up money.

I will leave with what John F. Kennedy said, "We must not ask what our country can do for us, but what can we do for our country." Bahamians stop expecting the government to take care of you, or the MP, get up and be creative.

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vigilant_citizen 7 years, 8 months ago

Can I ask everyone two questions: Why was gambling made illegal in the first place? And If a law is wrong should we follow it no matter how wrong it is or should we seek to change it?

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Ironvelvet 7 years, 8 months ago

I would venture to say that gambling was made illegal during the days of Pindling. It was made illegal after a committee convened by Pindling summised in a report (1974) that "...gambling is bad for the country as it preys on the poor classes of society and the vulnerable." I do not possess this report, but it would be interesting if we could read its contents in their entirety and who made up the committee.

Also, I'm sure that there are many laws that some of us deem are wrong, once again this goes back to my comment on laws being applied in an individual fashion. However, there is a protocol to go about amending them or throwing them out altogether, and I hardly think that openly defying them is the way to go. I'm sure some of you may compare this to the fight of MLK and the civil rights movement, but gambling is hardly a civil right.

Also, another line I will borrow from a great source, apparently released from a Las Vegas report on gambling, "...that for every dollar they get from gaming they spend 10 on the direct negative effects from gaming and advises any country against creating this industry."

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MartGM 7 years, 8 months ago

From my understanding, it was made illegal initially because (white) tourists didn't want to mix with (black) Bahamians. The casino operators of the time didn't want (the savage, ignorant, Black) Bahamians in their casinos so our "founding" fathers fell prey to their pressures to maintain its illegality.

It needs to be changed...

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B_I_D___ 7 years, 8 months ago

14 kids!! You all are your own worst enemies. Next time someone comes and asks me to borrow money, my first question is gonna be how many kids do you have...if the answer is more than 2 or 3, I have no sympathy for you!!

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tonymontana 7 years, 8 months ago

only the rich and the very stupid gamble . The man has 14 children is working for an illegal outfit and is crying crocodile tears. These number guys prey on the down troden of society and will fleece there ma to get a good pay day . Were is the commisioner of police ? his voice is as silent as a church mouse . truly he will go down in history as the worst COP this country would have ever seen. the word wutluss would not do him justice.

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Understandfacts 7 years, 8 months ago

People who want to gamble, gamble, nothing to do with being rich or very stupid. The number guys don't prey on the "down troden" no more than your nearest insurance providers do, its a business. The commissioner of police can only act if he is instructed too.

You are too critical, not factual and offer no solution, please don't allow your ignorance or arrogance cause you to write crap like this again.

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Concerned 7 years, 8 months ago

This article gets no sympathy from me. All these people fully knew that Number houses were illegal when they started working there and even before the referendum there was always a fear of being raided by the police. They are all adults and made adult decisions to work at these places. Not because a job pays the bills means that it is justifiable. I know a few strippers and see a lot of prostitutes around town. Trust me, their jobs pay their bills as well but...... Sorry. It is hard to say but there is no sympathy. Pick up a trade, sell newspaper, make shell jewelry, babysit, clean houses, start a lawn care business, wash windows; there are all kinds of legitimate ventures that positively minded Bahamians can do to make money. Sorry. No sympathy, only hard reality.

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RodCoffee 7 years, 8 months ago

Can someone please explain to me why is it that we allow these number bosses and an incompetent government to Confuse us. Why do they try to manipulate us into believing that if these Web cafes are shut down the money that a patron would of spent at these illegal businesses would be thrown in the garbage, vanish off the face of the earth, or no longer be added to the countries GDP. What would really happen is these web cafe' patrons would probably now take that same money and start spending it where they should of been spending it a long time ago i.e. B.E.C and other utility bills, food stores and restaurants, investments, Educating their children. I can think of a million better ways to spend hard earned money. I'm 100% sure if the government would of shut the number houses down other businesses would of seen an increase in sales. Therefore forcing them to increase their number of employees. It's like 2 plus 2 equals 4 or am I the only person in this country good at math. Why is there people that's so concern about the web shop employees and not the weak minded mother that loses her entire pay check spinning and is no longer able to feed her children. Finding a solution for 3,000 unemployed persons is much easier than finding a solution for entire nation. I've lived in other countries and I've never seen gambling affect so many households like it does in The Bahamas. The majority of Bahamians are not strong minded and disciplined enough to be able gamble freely. Who knows the damage these web shops have already done directly and indirectly to our country , and I'm sure if it continues it will be devastating. 0

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Understandfacts 7 years, 8 months ago

Bahamians are so funny, so quick to judge and criticize things they don't understand. Theoretically, your economical concept of this increase in revenue and sales for other businesses because webshops are shut down sounds good, but who is to say how anyone will decide to spend their money? These same people may also opt to take their new found savings to Miami. You can assume how things will work out, but nothing factual, so look at both sides. Economics is a science, you have to understand and study behavior. Further, Web Cafes are not illegal, they all have Business Licenses and have been incorporated to work under the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, they pay National Insurance like any other legal establishment would. Now, some of the activities carried out is considered legal under the law or so people are led to believe, but when the law was established by Lynden Pindling, did his government make it illegal to gamble online? Check the facts, there are various forms of gambling and the law does not stipulate or encompass all types. I’m not an advocate for doing anything illegal and I do agree as long as the activities are illegal they should be stopped, but seriously, how long has gambling been going on in the country and we were not educated about the social implications? I mean don’t you think our country would be in complete ruins by now if it is as bad as you make it seem, its been going on for over 3 generations. At the end of the day, it all comes down to education and being responsible. Adultery, teenage pregnancy, gluttony and obesity and bringing bastard children in to the Bahamas as has caused more families to be destroyed than gambling can ever dream off. How often do you hear a child die from starvation because the parents played numbers? How often have you heard adult die from heart attacks, high cholesterol, high blood etc because they eat to damn much? Can we make being fat illegal because of how much we would have to pay in healthcare, insurance and probably funeral arrangements and how this is hurting the country? How often did you hear a child be prevented from going from school because a parent or the parent played numbers? I am sure not as often as you have heard that a husband has cheated on his wife and had a bastard child, do you understand the social implications there? Can we please make adultery illegal? How often have you heard a child been prevented basic healthcare because their parents played numbers? I can go on and on. Point is, at the end of the day, you educate people to make wise and responsible decisions, and you help them understand the consequences and if they are in fact unable to meet basic obligations, reprimand them accordingly, cut the water off, cut the light off, cut the cable off, evict them if you have to, they will learn.

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Understandfacts 7 years, 8 months ago

To continue...Besides, not everyone has a child/children, wife or husband; some people are ridiculously rich why do we have to suffer? I make a pretty healthy salary, I have no spouse or dependents, I have never gambled but may one day decide that I want to. If I cant possibly make a return on any short term investment because the option is not available, the only place I’ll end up gambling is on the stock market and probably not the BISX, so my gambling would mean nothing for this country. Take the right away for people to choose how they want to spend their money and you know what will happen; They will get licenses to operate as Web Café owners, conduct ‘illegal activities’ create a black market, make millions of dollars that the Government can’t tax because it is ‘illegal’ Have persons from the community enjoy the black market and spend their money where they want and how they want anyway. Oh wait, it already did. My suggestion is, let the Government take control of it, if you care so much about peoples savings, allow a limit per month based on salary, tax players based on what they play. If the number bosses still want to be involved, hire them as consultants or operations managers, pay them a salary. If they are interested they will stick around, if they are not find someone who is.

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Ironvelvet 7 years, 8 months ago

This is contradictory in that you are saying that people's right to play should be limited based on a salary. You can't tell a person they can gamble then tell them how much they can play. They are adults not children right? That goes against the freedom to choose whether to gamble or not as you so eloquently stated. I'm not for gambling, but I can't follow this justification you have presented as a means to protect the poor.

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Understandfacts 7 years, 8 months ago

I said "if the Government care so much about peoples savings, allow a limit". Personally, I do not wish that the Government do this, but its obvious that the person whose post I was commenting on do not believe that Bahamian people are responsible enough to manage their own money, if the Government shares these beliefs, that is my suggestion as to what they propose to do. However, this is not something I would argue that I would want done under a democracy.

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Concerned 7 years, 7 months ago

@Understandfacts. What does all your meaningless pontificating accomplish other than: 1. giving you tired fingers from typing so much 2. show that you don't understand the point being made by the commentor 3. expose that you are blinded by the numbers fallacies as well 4. make readers wonder if you have a race horse to defend.

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USAhelp 7 years, 8 months ago

Maybe i should run a club that allows the sale of pleasure drugs ,women,men i can give jobs to help all of these people and get a free pass from the PM maybe a good story from the paper. ????

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242 7 years, 8 months ago

open up shops and clubs that sell dope. See if Christie support that? I know Ping would. Perry is Ping 2.0 just a different illegal activity.

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