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Bahamians Get Their Chance To Change Gambling Laws

There are plenty of examples in life of how ironic a situation could be. Take for instance the Bahamas, where residents are subjected to having large-scale casino resorts, but are not permitted to gamble in the casinos.

On Monday, voters in the Bahamas had their chance to change the existing laws and allow themselves the right to bet in the island's casinos. Whether or not they want that type of freedom is unknown, as the referendum was expected to be close.

The debate has picked up on both sides of the issue in recent months. Those that are in favor of the expanded gambling find it hypocritical that residents can work in casinos, but are unable to place wagers in the gaming establishments. Those against the referendum cite various religious and moral beliefs for their opposition.

"To bring the ruinous spirit of gambling and unleash this vice would cruch us," said "Save Our Bahamas" co-chairman Lyall Bethel.

That stance is shared by thousands of Bahamians. John Lyman believes that adults should have the right to place a bet if they choose to do so. It is a debate that has passionate supporters on both sides, and one that will bring the referendum down to the final minutes before the issue is decided.

The Bahamas has been a tough place for gaming groups to crack current laws. Church groups are powerful in the Bahamas, and have thwarted several attempts to add casino gambling to the list of recreational activities available to its residents.

The other issue at hand is a lottery system. The referendum asks if voters will approve a national lottery, much like those seen throughout the US and in other Caribbean countries. A lottery would bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars to a struggling national budget, according to several prognostications.

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