Monday, Dec 16, 2019
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An open letter to PM Minnis on gambling

Dear Dr. Minnis,

 

I applaud your efforts at cracking down on corruption. I applaud your moves to cut costs and begin some fiscal responsibility in this country. Many of us hope you can continue down this long-awaited path. However, we must acknowledge that there is an elephant in the room. This elephant is the existence of the web shops. Without addressing this issue, everything else you will do will be in vain, everything.I want mostly for you to acknowledge publicly that this epidemic exists, that it is real.

Firstly, let us discuss this in medical terms. Do we have a national epidemic? Yes! It is as deadly as AIDS, alcoholism or drug addition. It must be called an epidemic due to the very large number of Bahamians who are affected by this disease. Can you argue this point, Dr. Minnis? It has seriously affected the body politic. It has greatly impacted our economic circulatory system. Respiration is becoming increasingly difficult. The bleeding should rightly be called a hemorrhage. It has a direct impact on the increase of crime. It has a direct impact on our social services. This inarguable epidemic of gambling and the existence of the web shops must be attended to quickly.

Dr. Minnis, do you see what the Bahamian people see? Honestly, do you?

I live on a small Family Island, which you visited during your campaign. We now have four web shops for a population of under 1,000 people. Perhaps in Nassau you can ignore who actually goes to these web shops. Here, you cannot. We know everyone by name. We know what cars they drive, how many kids they have; we know much about their lives. In Nassau, you may treat people as anonymous. We cannot. We see who is being impacted, their families, their unfinished homes, their kids’ lunch money spent on spinning. I have heard the number of dollars that leave this small island each week. It is staggering. Even if it were half, or one-tenth of what was quoted to me, it is too much, much too much.

Dr. Minnis, I am tired of the lame excuses that this is just entertainment, that we should have the freedom of choice. You are too smart to buy these lame excuses, aren’t you? What is keeping you from addressing one of the most important issues in this country? Anyone with an ounce of sense can understand the negative political, economic and social effects these web shops are having on The Bahamas.

You, Dr. Minnis, as prime minister, must see this.

In my eyes, there is no other way you can claim that the web shops are not killing our country. Dr. Minnis, there is a solution, but you have to have the guts and fortitude to act prudently. Nationalize the web shops. Haven’t the web shop owners been made rich enough on the backs of the poor people of The Bahamas?

For God’s sake, Dr. Minnis, do we have no decency? I heard you mention the poor people. Do you truly care? We didn’t elect you to be God, we elected you to be our representative, to do our bidding. If one referendum wasn’t enough, what would satisfy you? Another? Then have one.

Dr. Minnis, every penny spent in the web shops should come back to Bahamians, either to contribute to the general fund, to reduce our deficit or to help educate and treat those addicted to gambling.

As I see it, The Bahamas is in a crisis situation. In a crisis, we ask our citizens to make sacrifices.

If you cannot ask the web shop owners if the tens, or hundreds of millions of dollars they now have as a result of formerly illegal and now legal operations in The Bahamas is not enough to satisfy them, then I do not consider you a leader. You will be considered a politician, a mere politician.

 

– Norman Trabulsy Jr.

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