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Christian Community Is ‘Divided Over Gambling’

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE Christian community remains divided and hypocritical over the issue of gambling in the Bahamas, a leading Bishop said yesterday.

Restating his support for the regularisation of web shops, Bishop Simeon Hall, of New Covenant Baptist Church, called on the government to present clear and factual information to the public when it resumes discussions on web shops this year.

He said some pastors had changed their tone over web shops after reviewing the government’s proposal to introduce Value Added Tax.

Bishop Hall said: “I was one of those that supported the regularisation of web shops, that is still my position. As I told a group of pastors [yesterday], government needs money. We can’t call on the government to do this and that and it continues to operate at a deficit, money is tight all over the world.

“If government can find legitimate means to accrue money, we should support it. I believe that the web shops are inextricably tied into the Bahamian culture and we should seek to regularise them.”

He added: “We should have dialogue without demonising one another. One of the mistakes some pastors made in the ongoing debate last year was that they demonised all the people who said ‘yes’ to regularisation. I don’t understand that, I think the Christian Church should lead the way in an ongoing debate on national issues and that is what is absent now from the Christian community.”

Last week, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe revealed that the government has begun a series of meetings with religious leaders and those with interests in gaming in an effort to reintroduce the discussion of web shop gaming in 2014.

Mr Wilchcombe, Minister responsible for gaming, said he has already met with several church leaders who had agreed to help him in his dialogue with other influential religious leaders.

Mr Wilchcombe said web shop gaming is “not off the table” and is still up for discussion - despite Bahamians overwhelmingly voting against the regularisation and taxation of web shops.

Yesterday, Bishop Hall said: “I think the church has not been as straightforward with local web shops as it has with casinos in the country. It’s hypocritical not to say a word about Sol Kerzner but we can say something about Mr Bastian.

“One of the interesting things happening now in view of the VAT proposal, is some pastors who were against the regulation of web shops are now saying they would support the web shops if that would mean a lowering of the percentage of the VAT exercise.”

Bishop Hall said: “I support the idea of ongoing dialogue. I believe government should be straightforward and plain and not as dubious as it was with the referendum, where it was saying it didn’t have a horse in the race and clearly there was a horse. Government should be transparent, factual, and upfront and let’s move forward.

“I respect the wishes of the Bahamian people but there are a vast number of Bahamians who not only support the web shops but live by them, literally live by them.”

He added: “We need to stand by what we believe is right instead of vacillating. Some people are now changing their mind because of VAT but my position is government needs some money to run this country, to fight crime, and I know of no better entity to get money from than from the web shops.”

Comments

ThisIsOurs 5 years, 9 months ago

why don't we have a state run cocaine trafficking business, that would generate lots of money

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henny 5 years, 9 months ago

Legalize web shops therefore, taxing will generate thousands/millions of dollars to be used towards education and revitalizing the country. It is not going anywhere no time soon so you might just as well deal with it and be over it instead of procrastinating!!!

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MarkTa 5 years, 9 months ago

Oh Ok. Lets also Legalize DRUGS AND GUNS therefore, taxing will generate thousands/millions of dollars to be used towards education and revitalizing the country.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 9 months ago

If you truly believe that legalizing webshops will do anything other than allow the owners to legally bank their illegal money and pay politicians bribe money, I'll sell you the lake Killarney bridge.

These guys are not going to give thousands of millions of dollars to anything. They have built their thousands of billions of dollars empire on a platform of HIDING THEIR ILLEGAL GAINS. Why should they change that strategy now? It's working. I can assure you after the first NOTHING cheques received from these establishments Perry Christie will say, well, you know! these things are very hard to control, but we are working on it.

And all that time you and I will pay our 15%, maybe you will pay your 50dollars a week to spin the wheel, the webshops PC and Mr Hall will get richer and we will get poorer.

Is a drug dealer allowed to keep the spoils of his illegal trade when caught? How then can you allow these people to profit off of years of illegal activity that you have no idea where the funds came from? Prostitution, human smuggling, gun smuggling, cocaine smuggling, marijuana smuggling? You don't know. And for Mr Hall to brush this aspect aside is shameless.

I understand the webshops offer a money transfer service. Who is to say that that money isn't being transferred to pay for hits or a drug shipment. They certainly aren't going to follow any of the AML guidelines. That would mean every person would have to bring in ID to send and produce ID to receive a money transfer, and the reports of each side of the transaction would go to the Central Bank. The Commissioner could just drive up market street and charge everybody. It is currently ILLEGAL after all...

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 9 months ago

James Smith one of the only sensible pro VAT voices has already said the anticipated revenue from legalized webshop operations is a drop in the bucket compared to the revenue the govt needs to create. So this "legalize webshops to offset VAT" argument is RIDICULOUS and anyone who uses it is trying to muddy the waters so they can get their pay cut.

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spoitier 5 years, 9 months ago

They are also divided over speaking in tongues, praise and worship, the trinity, and many other things except for tithes and offering, first fruit and donations, and this is coming from a person have been a christian most of his adult life.

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LiangChang 5 years, 9 months ago

cchina we can not play in cassino.. it is iligal. in nassau we can go to cassinos ans play free. work in hotel is end this year.. we can enjoy life after this in paradise.

love all and have a bless day.

Liang

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Bahamianpride 5 years, 9 months ago

ThisOurs And Rory, I generally agree with most post but in this situation i have to disagree. The webb shop owners are in violation of the laws and i think gambling destroys individuals but my argument is the government has created a environment with the passage of self discriminating laws limiting our people from capitalizing on Tourism, in this case legalized gambling. An environment exist where in terms of business and investment the majority of Bahamians are treated as second class citizen especially when it comes to accessing capital. A lack of free market Capitalism creates slaves and criminal enterprises like the Webb Shops ran by shady individuals. To give u an example my mortgage rate here in the U.S. is 3.8 %, my car loan is 0.9 % and I have access to capital through a competitive processes to start a business. I can invest in wealth generative assets in the market without being penalized for just taking part. I can walk into any casino and gamble if i have legal age and resource. I have a choice of many privately ran electric, power, or phone companies for services which controls prices and quality. My belief is, like prohibition and the Mob, Webb Shops are the result of a heavily socialized society that limits individual freedoms, eliminates competition, feeds corruption, keeps people poor and government dependent. Change the law allowing every and any Bahamian Citizen to gamble legally like it suppose to be in a free society and see how quickly the Webb shops vanish. The Christian Council should not be at any business table, Religion is a personal matter in a free society. There is no perfect system on this earth but u will find that in heavily socialized societies like the Bahamas there is more unchecked corruption, and generally a lower standard of living for the masses. A large segment of the population dependent on corrupt politicians handing out free Christmas turkey and ham for votes. A system that keeps people poor, A system where its easy for criminals to flourish.. We have taken up all of the negative aspects of American ghetto society in our attitudes and behaviors but non of its positives with choices and free market capitalism. I am Bahamian to the Core but have lately change my mind about returning home because i don't like the crime situation or the way we treat our own people...

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ChrisRolle 5 years, 9 months ago

Ok, it’s time to bring some logic to the discussion at hand.

IN THE BAHAMAS IN THE YEAR 2014:

1) MOLLY = ILLEGAL FOR TOURISTS AND BAHAMIANS ALL AGES.

2) COCAINE = ILLEGAL FOR TOURISTS AND BAHAMIANS ALL AGES.

3) MARIJUANA = ILLEGAL FOR TOURISTS AND BAHAMIANS ALL AGES.

4) RUNNING THE RED LIGHT = ILLEGAL FOR TOURISTS AND BAHAMIANS ALL AGES.

5) RAPE = ILLEGAL FOR BAHAMIANS AND TOURISTS ALL AGES.

6) MURDER = ILLEGAL FOR BAHAMIANS AND TOURISTS ALL AGES.

7) ARMED ROBBERY = ILLEGAL FOR BAHAMIANS AND TOURISTS ALL AGES.

8) STEALING = ILLEGAL FOR BAHAMIANS AND TOURISTS ALL AGES.

9) FRAUD = ILLEGAL FOR BAHAMIANS AND TOURISTS ALL AGES.

10) LITTERING = ILLEGAL FOR BAHAMIANS AND TOURISTS ALL AGES.

WHEN IT COMES TO GAMBLING IN THE BAHAMAS:

1) LEGAL FOR TOURISTS 18YEARS AND OLDER

2) ILLEGAL FOR BAHAMIANS ALL AGES

HOW CAN SOMEONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND COMPARE CRIMES THAT ARE CLEARLY ILLEGAL FOR ALL WITH AN ACTIVITY THAT IS LEGAL FOR SOME SOLELY BECAUSE OF THEIR AGE AND IMMIGRANT STATUS WHILE ON THE OTHER HAND ILLEGAL FOR OTHERS BECAUSE OF THEIR IMMIGRANT STATUS REGARDLESS OF THEIR AGE?

EITHER YOU ALLOW ALL ADULTS 18 YEARS AND OLDER TO GAMBLE STRAIGHT ACROSS THE BOARD IN THE BAHAMAS AS TOURISTS 18 AND OLDER PRESENTLY DO OR YOU DON’T STRAIGHT ACROSS THE BOARD AND WHICH GOVERNMENT DO YOU REALLY THINK WILL SHUT DOWN THE CASINOS OVER PI, CABLE BEACH, EXUMA, BIMINI! REALLY?

THISISOURS, RORY, MARKTA, YOU DESPERATELY NEED TO COPY/PASTE THE BELOW WEB ADDRESS, READ THE INFORMATION THAT IS THERE IN ITS ENTIRETY AND SHOW WHERE YOU ARE GETTING YOUR MIS-INFORMATION FROM BECAUSE THE LAW OF THE LAND STANDS IN COURT, NOT FALLACIES:

http://laws.bahamas.gov.bs/cms/images...">http://laws.bahamas.gov.bs/cms/images...

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ChrisRolle 5 years, 9 months ago

BAHAMAPRIDE, excellent feedback. As it relates to you below statement:

The webb shop owners are in violation of the laws!

Notice what you said, not the illegal analog casino with slot machines, tables with dealers that are not approved by the gaming board, you said:

The webb shop owners are in violation of the laws

Do you really want to know why 39 newly register Web Shop licenses in New Providence alone have been approved during the past year after the non-Constitutional Opinion Poll where many people incorrectly call a Referendum?

There is no law in the Bahamas Lottery & Gaming Act Chaper 387 that address gaming online aka WEB SHOP GAMBLING.

Until such time therein, the Police Commissioner, the Attorney General and the Courts cannot arrest/charge/convict any Bahamian or Tourist on a crime in which there is no law to arrest/charge/convict them with.

That is fact.

The present attorney’s who are aware of this fact that are presently representing the web shop owners in court know they have a clear cut case because like them, myself and many others who fully read and understand the Lottery & Gaming Act know this.

At the end of the day, until a law is created to directly address Internet Gaming in the Bahamas, we will continue to remain in this conundrum.

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ChrisRolle 5 years, 9 months ago

As it relates to everyone else reading this:

1) Bahamians, you did not vote to Legalize Web Shop Gaming, you did not! you voted to either have the Web Shops Taxed” & to be “Regularized” which means to conform as one eg Same Pay Outs, same games offered, same uniforms, same policies etc.

You instead said no Government, we do not want you to tax the webshops, we want them to operate tax free which is the reason why they will not have to pay VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT) and you also said not government, WE WANT THE WEB SHOP OWNERS TO DECIDE AS THEY PLEASE WHAT THEIR PAYOUTS CAN BE, WHAT THEIR OWN POLICIES CAN BE, THEY DO NOT NEED TO HAVE UNION REPRESENTATION, THEY CAN OPERATE AT WHAT EVER HOURS THEY PLEASE, THEY CAN MAKE THEIR OWN POLICIES WHEREAS THE CASINO HAVE TO ALL ACT ON ONE ACCORD, THAT’S WHAT YOU VOTED NO FOR!

2) Do you really think the Webshops want to be taxed? Really?

3) Do you really think the Webshops want to be “Regularized” and not have the 100% freedom which they presently do to decide on their own what their terms, conditions & payouts would be as they please? Really?

4) Fact, the Webshop owners wanted the “No” vote and those who were all around town promoting a “No” vote did exactly what the web shop owners wanted them to do whether they realized it or not because again, who in their right mind would not want to have the freedom to run their business as they please and most importantly, which business owner would want to be taxed?

Bahamians, wake up, educate yourself, the Government wanted the “Yes” vote, the webshop owners wanted the “No” vote.

Why?

Obtaining a license to open up a Web Shop is presently legal!

Any business with a license can allow their customers to open an account for debits/credits! What happens online in CA, IL, NY, FL, LA, Isle of Man or any country outside the Bahamas cannot be policed by Bahamian authorities but rather only by the authorities in those locations the same way those authorities have no jurisdiction in the Bahamas. If I as a business owner said:

Hey Rory, since you have an online account in my business with $10, tonight if the Miami Heat scores 109 and the New Orleans Pelicans score five points or higher (114 points or higher), I will give you $50 but if New Orleans scores 113 or less, I will keep your money, how can the Police arrest me and/or you Rory?

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ChrisRolle 5 years, 7 months ago

:-) No worries rory, just remember to continue to pray to God for the well being of the citizenry in the Bahamas. Again, may God continue to bless you and may God continue to bless the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. All the best my brother.

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ChrisRolle 5 years, 8 months ago

"the government is going by the results of the referendum they are not regulating or taxing the web cafe and there is no national lottery the problem is it looks like no one who voted understood the questions is this a result of the "D" average"

Hopefully the above quote by another member of this forum answers any questions because it truly sums it up!

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BahamasGamingAssociation 5 years, 3 months ago

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bahama...">https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bahama...

WHICH ON OF THE BELOW REIGNS SUPREME IN THE BAHAMAS?

The Bahamas Lottery and Gaming Act Chapter 387 Section 50 Persons prohibited from Gaming

Or

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Chapter III – Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedom of the Individual. Section 26 Protection from Discrimination on grounds of Race, Place of Origin etc.

The Bahamas Gaming Association stands by the Ideology that all human beings who are 18 years or older should be treated equally in all sectors of the Bahamian Economy which is enshrined in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

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