Let us bear in mind the point made by Mr. Whyte in the debate. He alluded to locals not being allowed to take part in casino operations for reasons of addiction and limited resource.
Therefore, is it alright for us to create conditions of addiction for non-Grenadians? Nevertheless, gambling and casino operations in particular create a very unhealthy and immoral environment. It also subtracts from the national income for it involves the sterile transfers of money while creating no new money. It creates no output, but observes time and resources. Casino gambling in no way adds to the ability of the economy to produce more. Look at Las Vegas for example; Casino gambling was the main thrust driving a powerful economic growth mainly through impressive job creation and has spawned significant private and public sector investment. But the question to be addressed is: can the Las Vegas experiment be duplicated here in Grenada?
The following are other questions that need to be addressed. (1) Are there costs involved that exceed the obvious economic development benefit? (2) If Las Vegas and other gambling operational cities are models of economic development are there hidden costs that need to be looked at? (3) Why has Las Vegas grown into a large diversified city while other Casino gambling cities have not?
Before casino operations, Atlantic City was a slum by the sea, now it is a slum by the sea with a casino. Let us face it: the basic criteria for the successful economic development of Grenada is not casino operations; it is for the establishment of projects which will increase our Net export, therefore, the amount of goods or services we exported to be increased and/or the amount we import decreased. That is the only way that our income as a nation can increase. Most projects can certainly be an overall economic success in terms of profit without doing either of these, but such profit comes at the expense of other businesses.
A positive economic impact of casino gambling is the construction of the facility which leads to the creation of jobs in the construction itself, which will be followed by suppliers and staff for the enterprise, and the suppliers of an ongoing operations. But just because a casino creates lots of jobs in its construction does not necessarily impact positively on a economy. Non-economic impacts such as social cost are usually intangible, and on balance negative.
Casino creates new jobs in the sense that they did not exist before. But they may not be new jobs for the Grenadian economy. Money that will be spent on a gambling facility is money that already existed but was being spent on other things. Building and running a casino does not create wealth; it simply transfers wealth. If the transfers are from outside Grenada then our country will benefit. If the development of casino leads to more money being spent outside of Grenada, then there will be no benefit for us.
This stimulus or beneficial impact could happen in two main ways. (1) Tourists from outside Grenada change their travel pattern and come here instead. (2) Local and regional gamblers, if they are of significant numbers, who use to travel outside of the State to gamble in casinos should decide to stay at home instead.
There are also ways that a casino could be of no increase benefit to Grenada. Locals who used to visit our restaurant now spend that money in the casino. The casino now has no net economic benefit. Tourists who used to spend money on other activities in Grenada now go to the gambling facility.
Construction of a casino could hurt Grenada if either of the following occurred: (1) Locally owned businesses closed because consumers have changed their habits to casino that is foreign owned. (2) If casino operations mean the buying of more products from outside Grenada than the business it replaces. (3) If casino should cause a increase in policing and other public services as well as the new cost of pathological and problem gamblers.