Local operators of the so-called “One Armed Bandit” slot machines are up in arms against a Canadian outfit that is allegedly trying to buy them out of the business.
An industry official told THE NEW TODAY that one of the main players in a Canadian Gaming Company, met with several of the Slot machine operators across the island and tried to entice them to sell over their machines to his operations and instead to work for them.
He said the Canadian boasted of striking a deal with the two-year old Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government that allows for his company to become a dominant player in the gaming business in Grenada.
According to the official, the meeting was dominated by heated exchanges between the foreigner and a former government minister who owns and operates several of the “One armed bandit” slot machines especially in the rural areas.
He said the Canadian put a proposal on the table to purchase all machines operated by locals at a set price and for the Grenadians to take machines from his company to put at their places on specified terms and conditions.
He spoke of the meeting becoming very heated with the ex-government minister eventually walking out of the session, accusing the Canadian of being “too rude”.
He told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the local operator felt that the Mitchell-led government should meet with the Machine Operators if they want to regulate the industry and not give the task to a non-national.
The ex-government minister pointed out that all Machine operators paid large sums of money to government to import the “One Armed Bandits” into Grenada to ply their trade and the issue of compensation ought to be part of the discussion.
This newspaper understands that Economic Development Minister Oliver Joseph has been given the task by Cabinet to regulate the Gaming industry on the island.
The source noted that several Machine owners who are known to be strong supporters of the NNP regime attended the meeting but remained extremely quiet.
“Not one of them opened their mouths to say anything. I know they are hurting but they (are) afraid to speak out. They are afraid to speak”, he remarked.
Grenada has seen a proliferation of slot machines in the country since the February 2013 election victory at the polls by Dr. Mitchell’s NNP.
Other sources believe that the administration might have entered into a deal with the Canadians on running of the state-controlled Grenada National Lottery Authority (GNLA) which operates several money games on the island.
There are unconfirmed reports that the Canadian output might be willing to guarantee a multi-million dollar loan for the cash-strapped Mitchell government which cannot borrow huge sums due to the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that is being closely monitored by the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
THE NEW TODAY understands that the Gaming industry is a lucrative business on the island with Grenadians spending approximately EC$135, 000.00 a day on the various games run by lotto.