Officials in the Bahamas announced plans to put gambling regulations to the vote. Bahama voters made their opinions known more than a year ago when they voted for a proposal to legalize online betting in the island nation.
Perry Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas since 2012, revealed plans to shut down all online gaming operations in the country. The initiative is to begin immediately, drawing support from Ellison Greenslade, the Bahamas’ police commissioner.
Commissioner Greenslade said he would be leading an operation to take down gaming websites as online casino operators appealed to the Supreme Court in an effort to repeal the decision. Gaming providers argue that their businesses do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Lotteries and Gaming Act and should not be affected by the vote.
Support for the Online Gaming Economy
Online casino supporters note that closing these websites would add to the already high levels of unemployment in the Bahamas. So far, no gaming websites have been shut down. Although a huge amount of money was spent staging the referendum, authorities have not made any move to enact the will of the people other than to make promises.
Obie Wilchcombe, the Bahamas’ Minister of Tourism, surprised observers with the announcement earlier this year that he would propose online gaming regulations to the cabinet by the first of July. The Prime Minister said that Wilchcombe made this statement independently, but Christie publicly supported the effort.
Bahamas Government Changes Position
Despite Bahamas residents’ wish to keep online gambling open in the country, Prime Minister Christie said he must contradict the vote due to the country’s financial situation. The unregulated gambling industry generates income for the residents of the Bahamas, but the money never reaches financial institutions or government agencies that need the income.
He said that money laundering and untraceable cash transfers conducted outside the country made the crackdown necessary. The illicit activity could serve to undermine the Bahamas’ standing on the international stage, possibly prompting some nations and organizations to blacklist transactions with the Bahamas.