Over the past five years or so I have remained totally mute on the subject of the introduction of Casinos to Grenada and our current Gaming Laws or lack thereof.
I have in this newspaper written on two occasions about the general illusions that some organisations, private entities and political figures, have been alluding to regarding the ills of gambling/gaming and Casinos here in Grenada.
Firstly, let us take a look at what appears to be acceptable gambling in Grenada, namely the Lotto Association and the games which it offers. Introduced years ago under the theme that it is meant to help and support Sports, Culture and Nation Building, which I no doubt, will admit it does.
At same time this Association has created an unprecedented platform for one and all (18 years and older) to place bets on everything from Daily Lotto, Super Six Lotto, Pick Three, Play Way and the purchase of Scratch Cards with an assortment of games.
This has been very well accepted and played by the Grenadian public in every facet, nook and cranny of Grenada, whether or not to the detriment of their family life or their moral values is anyone’s guess.
Like it or not, this is legalised gambling and many countries the world over, have adopted and installed Lottery Organisations, in my view as a form of “pleasant and voluntary taxation.”
A learned gentleman only last week, said to me that the purported intent of the existing Lottery Association, was meant to encourage people that have “extra” or disposable income to buy a “ticket or two” to support Nation Building.
Based on the lines I have observed and individuals racing to the Lotto Agents before the deadline has passed to place a bet, I think we have long passed the stage of “a ticket or two.”
The Lottery Association has created employment for many, has helped various organisations and has assisted many a shop owner that as an Agent to make ends meet, whilst at the same time creating the hope for the playing public, that they may one day hit the jackpot, but in the meantime are happy to win the smaller sums of money in the cheaper games being offered.
There is not much that I have to say about our Bingo games on island. Our larger games can be as pricey as $50.00 per ticket (VAT inclusive) and one only has to attend one of these events to observe the many thousands of Grenadians vying for the chance to win a car, an appliance or normally many thousands of dollars.
Now both the Lottery Games and Bingo are legalised gambling here in Grenada but one only has to mention the word “Casino” and somehow visions of the Mob, Prostitution, Illegal Drugs, Major Crime and Money Laundering magically spring into the minds of some select people and organisations.
Many years ago when the Casinos in Las Vegas in the United States had Mob ties it was a “free for all”, whereby bribery, corruption and general mayhem was the order of the day.
“When the Mob ran Vegas” a book written by Steve Fischer is a great insight of how Casinos ran by the Mob functioned in Las Vegas in the Sixties.
Over the years Las Vegas or “Sin City” as it is commonly called by some entities has become the kind of city where hundreds of thousand of people have moved to in the search of employment opportunities and have subsequently made their homes.
If one visits Las Vegas today, it is one of the cleanest, most beautiful cities in America with a dizzying array of well lit, themed Hotels and Casinos. Ironically because of the huge amount of Hotel Rooms that are available at cheap rates, it has also become a prime location to house huge conventions and has become very attractive for family vacations.
The NNP, Dr. Mitchell led, Government has taken the decision to introduce a long overdue piece of legislation namely the Casino Gaming Act, which although not yet Law will soon come to pass.
It seems in order to appease the Grenada Conference of Churches and other entities that are anti-Casino, the Government took the decision to follow a model of Casino Gaming, that prohibits Grenadians from patronizsng a Grenadian Casino, if and when one is built.
There is also a condition attached, which ties Casinos to Hotels with three hundred rooms or more, indicating that in order to have a Casino on island, a three hundred room hotel will have to be built, which will create much needed employment, both temporary and permanent.
However, there are still complaints being voiced that a Casino will create prostitution and other forms of unacceptable behaviour. I fail to see why a tourist or foreigner who chooses to enter a Casino to play Black Jack, Roulette or a Slot Machine would suddenly get the urge to engage the services of a prostitute or get high on illegal drugs, which according to these complainants must be on island already or will be imported by the reputable Hotels on island, that wish to house a Casino.
The NNP Government, has seen it fit to introduce another faucet of potential revenue for Grenada, whilst at the same time attempting to pacify the predictors of doom and gloom.
I applaud the ambitious and firm stance the Government has taken to bring us on par with the rest of the civilized World.
Firm Supporter of Casino Gaming