EDITOR, The Tribune.
I consider myself a Christian, perhaps not in the traditional and hypocritical manner, but I daresay that there is not a single other Bahamian, living, preferably, or dead who loves The Lord God Jehovah more than I, bar none. Traditionally, The Bible and other scriptural tomes postulate that “all of our help” comes from God. Yes, I completely agree with this but we human beings, inclusive of me, sometimes look to external sources for financial succour.
Often in times of temporary financial shortfalls some of us go to church leaders; family members; employers; lending institutions and anyone else whom we “feel” would be prepared to accommodate one’s beggary. While I have been self subjected to this humiliation and a direct repudiation of “thus saith The Lord”, I am not a proponent of this spectacle.
Others may think the same way but they often times get involved, excessively, in gaming and wagering (some call it gambling) in a vain and foolish attempt to earn a living from this insidious and morally debasing behaviour. Again, permit me to state, for the record, that I am a proponent of affordable and prudent gaming, etc.
What I am bitterly against is the fact that a handful of “selected” individuals have been granted a monopoly on this activity and would appear to be pulling in tens of millions of dollars annually from the main economy to the national and societal detriment. In addition, the web operators would now appear to be dictating to the hapless FNM administration.
I am astounded by the fact that despite the overly repeated “promise” to make available an Initial Public Opening (IPO) to ordinary Bahamians during the bogus vote yes campaign, we’ve heard very little about that in recent times. The web operators, before legislation and regulations, were, generally, in business for decades, ie Flowers’ web shops may have had their origin in what was started by Craig’s father decades ago.
Island Games came out of the numbers business then ran by the late Percival “Percy” Munnings. Island Luck (Sebas Bastian; Adrian Fox and Keith Major); Ultra Games (Antoine Roker) and Paradise Games (Kevin Knowles) are “newer” players on the block but they too enjoyed years of non taxed revenue and income.
It has been said that they are all millionaires and would have been so for quite some time now. Do not get me wrong. I have no problem with people wagering their disposable income. I am against them chasing The Big Gold Dream while the operators are getting filthy rich.
Our “lazy” administrations see this industry as a means to raise revenue in the benign guise of taxes. I hold that the monopoly which currently exists is unconstitutional and discriminatory. Capitalism and democratic values would dictate that all qualified Bahamians should, as a matter of right, be allowed by common and statute law to equal access to all of the economic benefits and opportunities in the nation. No more, no less. The people of our wonderful nation seems to be caught up between a rock and a very hard place.
In conclusion, the FNM, as broke as it claims that it is will go for the whole hog, as they should. Reduce the potential profit margin for the operators to 40% and the central government 60%.
The disparity of wealth and income is too in your face and may lead, God forbid, to societal dislocation. If the operators were operating a pure “nation building” industry they could earn all the monies possible. When the proliferation of this industry flaunts its opening of stores right next to schools and churches, this is where I draw the line. Where is the Bahamas Christian Council in all of this? Where is the official opposition?
Appropriate legal proceedings may well have to be taken by citizens to rationalise this industry and to bring sanity and order to the same. The creation and sustenance of oligarchs is not a Bahamian thing nor is it conducive to a healthy national economy. By the way, where are the industry sponsored “addiction” hotlines and care facilities for gambling addicts?
We don’t hear much about this because the operators would appear to want as many clients as possible and to hell, apparently, with the consequences. To God then, in all things, be the glory.
ORTLAND H BODIE Jr
September 3, 2018.