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A Call To Legalize Gambling In The Bahamas For Locals
Related to country: Bahamas

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Legalize Gambling, D’Aguilar Urges:
By Tameka Lundy -
Nassau, Bahamas:

Businessman Dionisio D’Aguilar has a simple solution to the illegality of Bahamians who are intent on flaunting the law and gambling: legalize it.

He advanced the position Monday that the government should remove the legal impediment to gambling for locals and accrue revenue through taxation.

"Let’s get on and get over this topic. It is so rife. It’s everywhere in this country. Everyone is gambling. Everyone sees it. It’s happening in the country and the government isn’t making one dollar off it," said Mr. D’Aguilar on Monday while on the Issues of The Day talk show on radio Love 97.

"I don’t care what the churches say – and I may be controversial here. It’s happening and I don’t know where you live, but I live on this island. I see all the web shops."

Mr. D’Aguilar, who is also the president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber does not have an official position on gambling since it has not yet considered it.

Gambling has been a hot button topic in The Bahamas for many years with many Bahamians participating in the operation and the religious community blasting its very existence.

Although there is a level of taboo surrounding illegal numbers houses, they are well known, with some of the operators even heading well-organized Internet operations.

During a recent debate on crime in the House of Assembly, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham suggested that gambling for Bahamians should be legalized since it appears to be such a challenge to enforce the laws against it.

"The reality is that it is not an enforceable law and the society is doing it every day. There’s a web shop here and a web shop there, all over the island," Mr. Ingraham said at the time.

"…There are web shops in Abaco, web shops in Bimini, web shops in Exuma. It’s nationwide."

The prime minister also touched on the question of a national lottery. He said "…you might as well legalize the whole thing since you can’t enforce it."

However, the Bahamas Christian Council responded promptly to the prime minister’s comments and its head Bishop John Humes insisted that the government should observe the laws of the land.

"To say that everyone is doing something, especially illegal, should be reason to legalize them, then God help us. If this is our rationale for operating our country, then what is next? I urge the prime minister to have the courage and will to do what is right in the sight of God and written in our constitution and laws."

The bishop also called for legislation to be put in place to control the amount of web shops that are opening, adding that The Bahamas is currently under a strong attack of lawlessness.

But despite the objections, Mr. D’Aguilar expressed no reservations about legalizing gambling for Bahamians. The law allows for tourists to gamble.

"Everybody knows who’s doing it. Everybody knows what’s happening. Let’s figure out a way to regularize it and get some revenue out of it. I support it 100 percent. That’s my personal opinion and not the opinion of the chamber," he said.

While he was chairman of the Gaming Board, former PLP MP Kenyatta Gibson reported that The Florida Lottery conservatively estimated that US$100 million is spent every year by Bahamians playing the Florida Lottery.

Mr. Gibson further suggested at the time that this money could be kept in The Bahamas.

One conservative estimate is that 29 web cafes in New Providence believed to be operating illegal numbers houses have business licenses.

March 11, 2008

March 11, 2008 | 6:20 PM Comments  {num} comments

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