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Rollins hits out at proposed gaming bill

  • Dr. Andre Rollins. FILE

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: May 02, 2013

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When asked if the final version of the government’s proposed Gaming Bill should afford Bahamians the same right to gamble legally as non-Bahamians, Gaming Board Chairman Dr. Andre Rollins said yesterday that Bahamians should be able to do anything in The Bahamas that non-Bahamians are lawfully able to.

Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller shared similar sentiments.

Both men said they are opposed to a provision in the proposed bill that discriminates against Bahamians participating in online gaming.

“Bahamians should be able to do in this country anything that a non-Bahamian is lawfully permitted to do,” Rollins said.

“There is no ifs, ands or buts about that.”

This comes a day after two senior members of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) said they want the government to rethink the provision.

“The new generation of leaders of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) recognize that it is for us to stand for what we believe to be right,” Rollins said.

“And it would be futile for us to work as diligently as we did to be elected, to represent the Bahamian people, only to come here and ignore their cries.

“And I can assure you that the same way that we have been outspoken as we have been, we will continue to be as outspoken because we strongly believe that it is unacceptable for politicians to give lip service but not put meaningful action behind the words that they utter.”

Although he has not seen the proposed bill, Miller said he believes it should be changed.

“I think we need to inject a paragraph or two paragraphs in that bill enabling Bahamians to have the same privileges and rights as any foreigner that either resides in our country or comes here as a tourist,” Miller said outside the House of Assembly.

“It really bothers me that less than 40 percent of our population voted in that [gambling] referendum.

“The church was very strong in their views [and] it’s unfortunate that that took place.

“In my opinion it really wasn’t necessary.

“We should have gone to Parliament the same as we did... on behalf of Kerzner and the guys out west, that’s what should have happened.”

Miller and Rollins spoke separately amongst two civic groups that marched to Rawson Square lobbying for equal rights in the country.

The Nassau Guardian reported on Monday that the bill would allow people outside The Bahamas to gamble on a website established, maintained and operated by the holder of a local gaming license.

But they must be in a country or jurisdiction that permits online gaming.

The bill would also allow work permit holders and permanent residents to gamble in The Bahamas.

Bahamians would be the only group of persons prohibited from gambling.

PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts told The Nassau Guardian that he agrees with critics who see the proposed law as discriminatory.

Former PLP parliamentarian George Smith, who headed the Hotel Corporation, said he was “baffled” by the proposed legislation and questioned the rationale behind it.

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