|Government to hold referendum on gambling|
|Friday, 17 August 2012 07:53|
NASSAU, The Bahamas - Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie has stressed that the soon to be called referendum on gambling will not extend to casinos.
During a Communication to the House of Assembly August 15, he confirmed that the Government intends to hold a referendum on the issue of a national lottery and/or web cafes.
The proposal is in keeping with the PLP Government’s First 100 days commitments made in its Charter for Governance.
“I wish to confirm that it is my Government’s intention to proceed with a referendum on the issue of a national lottery and/or web cafes as soon as practicable following the anticipated by-election in North Abaco later this year,” the Prime Minister said.
The referendum will seek to ascertain whether a national lottery should be instituted and or whether the popular web cafes or web shops be legalised, regulated, licensed and taxed.“The referendum will not extend to any other forms of gambling. In particular, it will not extend to any question as to whether Bahamians should be permitted to engage in casino gaming.
“This will not be an issue in the forthcoming referendum nor, incidentally, was it ever promised that it would be,” the Prime Minister said.
He also reiterated that the Government would maintain a position of complete neutrality on the referendum issues.
“We will not campaign for, nor will we encourage the adoption of, either a yes or no position on any of the referendum issues.”
The Government will, however actively encourage the widest possible public discussion of the referendum issues to ensure that all points of view on the issues can be heard, read about, and considered by the electorate before voting, the Prime Minister said.
In this regard, it is anticipated that there will be debates and panel discussions along with published position papers. Also, the media is expected to play a leading role in ensuring that the contending views on the referendum issues are fully and fairly ventilated during the run-up to voting.
A period of at least 30 days will elapse between the calling of the referendum and the actual voting day, so as to allow for a thorough public discussion on the issues, the Prime Minister said.
The process will be held like that of a general election –involving the same machinery including using the voter’s registration list.
Hence, there will be no need to register again – except those who were not eligible to vote in the May 7, 2012 general election, would have a chance to register.
The new eligible voter will have to register at least 10 days prior to the date fixed for the referendum; this is specifically provided for in the Constitutional Referendum Act.
“Once the will of the Bahamian electorate has been expressed and the results of the referendum have become known, the Government will make the appropriate announcements as to the way forward,” the Prime Minister said.
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