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Say NO to Casino Gambling

  • Written by  Selwyn Mitchell

This NNP administration intends to grant licenses for casino operations in the Spice Isle. 

 

Legalized gambling in Grenada is an old debate which has taken on many forms like horse racing, bingo, cards games and raffle, but a recent development and form like lotto and scratch have been in the forefront for several years since its adoption from the north America market, Canada and the USA. It is without a doubt that legalized gambling has been an accepted norm in our society for decades. Nevertheless, it may not be the moral thing to promote or increase the scope of gambling activities in our religious environment by the introduction of casino gambling. It can be argued that casino operations benefit the economy, but for every tax dollar that is made through casino gambling, just think of the inflated cost to the economy to higher additional law enforcement, and to fund gambling treatment programs. The cost of legalized gambling far out weighs the benefits of it.  It promotes crime, sin, stupidity, laziness, arrogance, greed, selfishness, and the neglect of ones own family among other horrible things, gambling in general, can be most accurately described as an economic and moral cancer in any society. So, what should Christians say about the expansion of gambling in Grenada? Some churches have long taken an unequivocal stance opposing gambling. For example, the United Methodist Church declares: “Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the  best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life and destructive of good government”. 

The Presbyterian Church has a long history of opposition, to all forms of gambling as an abomination of stewardship. Many Evangelical and fundamentalist churches also preach against gambling. The catechism of the Catholic Church instructs “Games of chance or wagering are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others.  

However, the following questions need to be addressed.

(1) Are there costs involved that exceed the obvious economic development benefit?

(2) If gambling operations are models of economic development are there hidden costs that need to be looked at?

Let us face it, the basic criteria for the successful economic development of Grenada is not casino operations, but the promotion and progressive growth of agriculture and Fisheries and,

 The establishment of projects, which will increase our Net export. Therefore, the amount of goods or services we export are to be increased 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.

Any stimulus or beneficial impact could happen in two main ways.

• Tourists from outside Grenada change their travel pattern and come here instead.

• Local and regional gamblers, if they are of significant numbers, who used to travel away to gamble in casinos should decide to stay or come to Grenada instead.

There are also ways that a casino could be of no increased benefit to Grenada. Locals who used to visit our restaurants 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.

Locally owned businesses closed because consumers have changed their habits to casinos that is foreign owned.If casino operations mean the buying of more products from outside Grenada than the business it replaces. 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 casino generally takes more of the economic benefit. Casino also brings with it a social cost such as lower quality family life, stress, bad loans, bad checks, lost work time and criminal justice system cost. 

There is another type of social cost such as suicide, incidents of child abuse, loss of productivity, impaired judgments, divorces, depression and physical illness,  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—a 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 a large chunk of its gross profits as tax. Proponents of casino gambling will have us believe that we will be able to attract gamblers from beyond our region.  

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 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 got to bear in mind the conclusion of international researchers, they have concluded 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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