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CASINO GAMBLING - Cause and Effect Part 4

  • Written by  Selwyn Mitchell

Another negative aspect of casino operations is that it does not support complimentary business in the local community because all the necessary facilities are built-in and are part of the casino operations.

It has been well documented that wherever a casino is located half of the then existing restaurants are forced to close down. It has been determined that casinos generally take more of the economic benefit.  The criteria for sustainable economic development in Grenada are that exports increase or import decrease; which means that additional dollars must be attracted from outside Grenada to pay for any additional social cost. Pathological gambling and its related problems, although silent and invisible but costly to the public finance, must be borne by society. The social cost includes fraud, bad loans, bad cheques, lost work time and criminal justice system costs. There is another type of social cost such as suicide, incidence of child abuse, loss of productivity, impaired judgments, divorces, depression and physical illness, stress and lower quality family life.  Since the economic benefit, if any, from casino gambling must be derived from attracting gamblers from outside or preventing Grenadians from travelling outside of the State to gamble in casinos—an unwelcome competition between States might ensue necessitating new regulations and legislation and the domino theory may come into play.

It is a fact that politicians and the general public are naturally attracted to casino operations in Grenada. They see it as an industry, which may be willing to pay large hunks of its gross profit as tax. They see casino gambling as a source of money that is easy to obtain because it is not a tax on individuals. Competition may not be limited to other States; it will most certainly involve Grenada Notional Lottery Authority. Such competition will bring on serious financial and developmental implications for public finance. Monies that would have otherwise been normally wagered on NLA games will now go in the direction of the casino. The result would be loss of employment opportunities both at the main office and also in the out Parishes with a corresponding reduction in public-sponsored projects and activities. The only winners here will be the casino operators.

Proponents of casino gambling will have us believe that we will be able to attract gamblers from beyond our region. Firstly, the tourist ships have got their casinos on board and will continue to be in a position to outdo a Grenada based facility. Nearly all the tourists who arrive on our shore by ship do not stay overnight and have not felt short served due to the absence of a land based casino. The theory that chartered plane and boat loads of gamblers will make frequent visits is simply pie in the sky. It is quite possible that the occasional charter may come, but that will never be enough to sustain such a business or to transfer any sizeable revenue to the local coffers. The North American casino gambler would only come here if he can import north America’s ills-- vulgarity, violence and immorality to our shores or if he will be allowed to cultivate foreign alien undesirable and lucid exercises for in-house purposes; thus changing Grenada into a Las Vegas of the Caribbean where anything and everything goes.  Not only will we have to pay a very high moral cost as Grenada becomes the capital of immorality in the region but public finance will also bear a very heavy burden for services, which would have to be provided for problem gamblers. We also have to bear in mind the conclusion of international researchers that, for every tax dollar received three dollars are needed to be spent on infrastructure, problem gamblers, police etc. Therefore, at the end of the day only the casino operator wins.

 Therefore, casino gambling’s promise, as a source of economic development and tax revenue, should never be viewed as a panacea for the fiscal woes of Grenada by the administration or the general public.

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