Gibson thinks gambling should be legalized for Bahamians
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: May 11, 2013
Minister of Labour and National Insurance Shane Gibson said yesterday he voted yes in the January 28 gambling referendum and thinks Bahamians should have the right to gamble legally if they choose to.
Gibson made his comments while a guest on the Guardian Radio talk show “Darold Miller Live”.
“Of course I voted yes,” he said. “People should have choices.”
He said he was “disappointed” in the outcome of the referendum because Bahamians voted to uphold discrimination against themselves.
That referendum asked voters if they supported the regulation and taxation of web shops and the creation of a national lottery.
The question of whether Bahamians should be permitted to gamble in casinos was not on the ballot, however.
“I’m not going to go in the casino, shoot dice all night trying to win,” Gibson said.
“I’m not going to play Black Jack. I’m not going to pull a slot machine handle trying to win money, and I’m not going to buy numbers.
“That’s not me, but what I’m saying is I was disappointed that Bahamians themselves voted to have Bahamians discriminated against when they had an opportunity to say yes to gambling.
“I don’t do it, but I believe in freedom of choices. There are some things you can’t legislate.”
When asked if he thought the government handled the failed referendum poorly, Gibson said, “Hindsight is 20/20,” but stressed that Bahamians had the power to make a change with their votes earlier this year.
He said he did not understand the recent uproar over a draft Gaming Bill.
The majority of people who voted in the referendum voted no to both questions. However, less than 50 percent of the electorate voted.
“People had a chance in January to do what they are saying they want to do now,” Gibson said.
“They are saying that now, but they had an opportunity; you don’t have to worry about the process.”
Gibson also said he had not seen the controversial draft Gaming Bill.
The Nassau Guardian revealed that the proposed legislation 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.
The prohibition against Bahamians gambling would continue.
Last week, Free National Movement Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said he thinks Bahamians should be allowed to gamble in local casinos.
“In terms of [whether] Bahamians should be in casinos, I feel yes, but that is my personal view.”
He added: “Whatever is done you should ensure fair play to the Bahamian populace, and you should ensure that you truly believe in Bahamians.
“That is the most important thing.”
Minnis had urged Bahamians to vote no in the gambling referendum, criticizing the process.