On January 28th, 2013, the people of the Bahamas out rightly rejected gambling in all forms as presented by the Bahamian government. They voted loud and clear and they voted no.
Opponents and proponents alike will now ask the question why? Why did Bahamians vote against a thriving web shop industry that some say employ thousands of people? Why did Bahamians not support the possible 20 million dollars being added to the public treasury annually, especially given that the Bahamas is on the brink of financial collapse?
The government of the Bahamas said it had no horse in the race, yet it gave numerous statements to the contrary. On the surface, it was abundantly clear that the government by its actions wanted most Bahamians to vote yes. But a lot of Bahamians in their stubbornness believed otherwise. And a great many Bahamians I believe were confused about the government’s position; many of them still are.
You see the whole gambling referendum process lent itself to a blue hole of confusion. One minute the prime minister was saying that he had no horse in the race and the next minute he was saying that the web shops employed a great many Bahamians and that our social services would be stretched if Bahamians voted no. Even the Chairman of the gaming board, Dr. Andre Rollins said that the process was awkward and untidy. He seemed very much out of his element as I believe he was put in a position to support something that his inner convictions did not believe in.
The no vote on January 28th, 2013 was a culmination of several factors, but we can’t deny that the excessive administrative blunders by Perry Christie and his government contributed to the referendum not being supported by the majority of Bahamians. It is still mind boggling to me the juvenile tactics that the government used in this whole gambling referendum process.
Bahamians saw right through the government’s incompetence and they demand and deserve to know what they are voting for and the pros and cons of their vote. The government did not even make an attempt to educate the masses on this issue and they may have gotten what it deserves.
I hope that going forward the government of the day would see the wisdom in showing more respect to the Bahamian people and convey a well thought of process, with studies done and actual facts to the country. We are now 0 and 2 on referendums in the last 11 years. Bahamians are not going to accept any haphazard, half ass process that is whipped up like fast food and allow it to be pushed down their throats.
Get the process right and maybe the people will follow.