|Laing: Failed gambling referendum would present ‘dangerous scenario’|
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Aug 22, 2012
If the country votes against the legalization of numbers houses it would present a more “dangerous scenario” than if it were to vote for it, Senator Zhivargo Laing has predicted.
“To go to the extent of a referendum and getting a decided determination from the people means that the government now has to do its job — what the people say,” said Laing, who was a guest on the Star FM talk show ‘Jeffrey’ on Monday.
“So then you have to go to the numbers man and say, ‘I can’t cozy up to you [anymore] big brother.
“I like you, thank you very much for all of the money that you gave me for various things, so forth and so on. But I have to do my wherewithal right now to close you down. [I have to] fight you hard’.”
Prime Minister Perry Christie has said if voters vote against the legalization of numbers houses, the government would ensure that the gambling laws are enforced.
Christie said when the referendum is called, Bahamians will vote on whether a national lottery should be instituted and/or whether web shops should be legalized, regulated, licensed and taxed.
As it relates to casino gambling, Laing said he thinks that question should also be included in the referendum.
“The policy should be consistent,” he said.
However, Christie said previously that the referendum will not extend to any other forms of gambling.
Laing added that he does not think the question of a national lottery ought to be included.
“No government is going to do a lottery and dedicate all the money to sports, period, especially when the money starts coming in. It’s just a farce,” he said.
Laing said it isn’t likely that the money would be spent on sports or education.
Christie has confirmed the government will proceed with the referendum on gambling “as soon as practicable” following the anticipated North Abaco by-election.
While no official date for the referendum has been announced, he said there will be a period of no less than 30 days between the time the referendum is called and the actual voting day.
North Abaco MP Hubert Ingraham handed in his resignation letter to House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major last month. It takes effect August 31.
A by-election has to be called within 60 days after that date.