By PAUL G TURNQUEST
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.