|U.K. consultants to advise on nat’l lottery|
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Aug 22, 2012
The government has engaged consultants from the United Kingdom to advise the Ministry of Finance on how a national lottery would be best structured in The Bahamas, Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday.
“This happens to be an area that I have no prior experience with,” Christie told The Nassau Guardian when asked how a national lottery would work in The Bahamas. “I don’t play lotteries and I don’t play web shops and numbers and so forth.
“From the point of view of the lottery, my understanding is there is concern that we don’t have the base, the population base.
“I then argued that the population base is here because if you’re selling a lottery ticket you have four million tourists or whatever number of tourists which makes it a bigger base.
“I happen to have experts who are now being employed to advise me on the process going forward so that upon the vote I would then know what to do.
“The Ministry of Finance, during the prior regime, prepared legislation on computer wagering which is to cover those situations.
“As to whether or not that is entirely suitable, I don’t know because once we reach a stage where we’re doing the lottery we’ll have to have consultation with the people who are involved in the business.”
The questions of whether to create a national lottery and/or to legalize web shops will be put to the people in a referendum “as soon as practicable” after a North Abaco by-election, Christie has said previously.
The by-election must be called within 60 days of retiring North Abaco MP Hubert Ingraham’s resignation from the House of Assembly, which comes into effect on August 31.
Christie said more details about how the government would structure a national lottery or legalize web shops would be made public in the lead up to the referendum.
Yesterday, the prime minister could not say how much the gambling referendum would cost, but added that he does not think the vote will be on the same scale as a general election.
“You don’t have to have the same number of stations even though it’s to the convenience of people,” he said. “So it’s a matter that I will be able to answer after I have had a meeting with [Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage] and the parliamentary commissioner.
“I don’t have any preliminary figures. It’s going to happen whatever the preliminary figures are.”
The Christie administration has also committed to holding a constitutional referendum to amend clauses that are discriminatory against women and another on oil drilling.
Christie said the oil drilling question and constitutional changes may be addressed in the same referendum.
“I’ve appointed the Constitutional Commission and I have indicated to the Commission that they have until the end of March  and then after the end of March it would be open for consideration on what their findings are and recommendations are and some of which we have to go to a referendum on,” he said.
“I made a commitment to consult with people on drilling for oil. We are going to be at the stage soon where it is determined whether or not there are significant oil deposits in The Bahamas.
“We know the Cubans are drilling in approximately the same area and the question will be what is the position of The Bahamas government going forward. Well we indicated during the election campaign that for there to be drilling we would have to consult the Bahamian public.
“So if that becomes an eventuality then we will have to consider doing that at the same time as we are going to the people next year on other issues.”