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Minnis blasted for ‘double talk’ on gambling

Minnis has expressed various positions on gambling
Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: May 03, 2013

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Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts yesterday lashed out at Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis for “flip-flopping” on the issue of gambling.

“He is clearly double-minded,” Roberts said in a statement. “Dr. Minnis has no credibility as a leader.”

Roberts added that Bahamians should not trust Minnis to lead “because he cannot lead himself by standing on his convictions and principles”.

Minnis told The Nassau Guardian on Wednesday that any proposed gaming legislation presented to Parliament should ensure “fair play” for Bahamians.

When asked whether that meant Bahamians should be allowed to gamble in casinos, Minnis said, “In terms of [whether] Bahamians should be in casinos, I feel yes, but that is my personal view.”

Roberts said this latest statement was evidence that Minnis engaged in double talk throughout the controversial gambling debate.

In August, Minnis said he had “nothing against individuals gambling in terms of lottery, buying numbers etc." and indicated that he would support making the numbers industry legal.

Minnis later said the FNM would not tell the electorate how to vote in the January 28 web shop and lottery referendum.

But in January, Minnis urged people to “vote no” on both referendum questions.

The majority of voters who voted in the referendum voted no, but it was less than 50 percent of the electorate.

Roberts said people should not be guided by any statements from Minnis.

The PLP chairman said, “I remind Bahamians that Dr. Minnis is a man who does not know his own mind and does not believe his own words, so why should anybody trust Dr. Minnis?”

When contacted for comment yesterday, Minnis said his stance on gambling never wavered throughout the referendum debate.

He said his comments on Wednesday were not evidence of flip-flopping and added that he spoke about Bahamians having the right to gamble in casinos, not web shop gaming.

When asked why the FNM told people to vote no in the referendum, he said, “The FNM had problems with the procedure, the entire process; the procedure was wrong.”

The Gaming Bill in its current form 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 people prohibited from gambling.

This element has caused an outcry in some quarters.

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