Dr Myles Munroe (right) greets Bishop Walter Hanchell at Vote No celebrations on Monday night. Photo: Ahvia J. Campbell
By CANDIA DAMES
Nassau Guardian News Editor
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Bahamians were on Tuesday waiting to see if Prime Minister Perry Christie sticks to his word and shuts down gaming shops in The Bahamas after voters rejected the two questions on a highly controversial gambling referendum on Monday.
Although all the results were not in on Monday night, it was clear that voter turnout was very low.
Based on the unofficial results on Monday night, voter turnout appeared to be just above 20 percent.
The available unofficial results showed there were 21,415 no votes for the question on web shops and 14,098 yes votes.
There were 20,517 no votes for the national lottery question and 14,522 yes votes.
It was not immediately clear what the government’s next move will be following the results.
Christie has said the government would shut down numbers houses if the referendum fails.
But he has also said more recently that the government would have to make a decision if there is low voter turnout. He did not say however what he would consider low voter turnout.
Last night, the No Vote campaign expressed great satisfaction in the initial results of the referendum.
“I am not surprised,” said Dr Ranford Patterson, president of the Bahamas Christian Council.
“Bahamians were able to see through all the gifts and stuff that they (the Vote Yes campaign) were doing, the bribery that they were trying to do. Our message played a major role in this.
“This is a major victory for the church.”
Island Luck CEO Sebas Bastian said the outcome was disappointing.
“Obviously, I would have preferred a yes vote,” Bastian said.
“I am disappointed in the low number of people who were interested in the process.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be that low. It really speaks to the fact that the people rejected the process, not gambling.
“Unfortunately it was made political. I feel bad for my employees who are now in limbo. I will hustle and survive somehow, but what will they do?”
Outspoken pastor Rev. Dr Philip McPhee, who supported a ‘yes’ vote, said he too was disappointed and concerned for the employees of gaming shops.
“The people have spoken,” McPhee said.
“I still feel that we missed an opportunity to benefit. My concern basically is for the people who will be unemployed more than anything else and how we would be able to address that.
“It will have a psychological and negative effect on the same nation. It’s a mindset thing more so than anything else. For you to wake up tomorrow morning not sure of employment, not sure how you are going to pay your mortgage, rent and school fees, it places you in a very unpredictable position. These people have families, they have responsibilities.
“I think that somehow and somewhere we must find a balance to this whole thing so that the country does not deteriorate in any fashion in terms of people’s lifestyles.
“It’s a clear signal that the Bahamian people rejected the yes vote.”
Free National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis said he was pleased with the results.
“Looking at the results that are coming in I am very, very happy that the Bahamian people have spoken,” said Minnis, who had pushed a ‘no’ vote and criticized the process as flawed.
“I congratulate both the Bahamian people and church and this has galvanized the church and the Bahamian people will realize how important the church is to our society, and it also shows how important a role the church must play for us moving forward, not only in morality but keeping governments on the right path and ensuring that the government does what’s best for the people.”
Referring to Prime Minister Christie, Minnis said, “His legacy will show he was playing with democracy. He allowed it to be completely abused by the numbers shops. Our democracy was being threatened. The Bahamian people have spoken.”
Although Christie has said repeatedly his government has no horse in the race, the results are widely viewed as a defeat for the government.
Saying that Christie will have to make the next move, Bastian said, “The world waits on Perry.”
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian