Eastmond: Elderly being exploited
GAMBLING is an addiction that is affecting both the young and the elderly, says Opposition MP Rawle Eastmond.And yesterday during debate on the Betting and Gaming Duties (Amendment) Bill, 2010, in the House of Assembly, the St James North representative made an impassioned plea for society to pay greater attention to how gambling was negatively touching people’s lives.He said there were some gambling establishments that were taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of the elderly. He said he was not taking any moral ground on the issue, but added that some gambling arcades used pension cheques as security for gamblers or simply changed them to facilitate elderly gamblers.He said because of feelings of financial insecurity many elderly people turned to gambling hoping to “hit it big”. He said gambling for many was obsessive, compulsive behaviour.Eastmond pointed generally to borrowing, stealing from employers, refusal to pay bills, lying, and an inability to support family as among the many eventualities of gambling addiction. He said that often gambling addicts were in denial over their affliction.During his contribution, Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Patrick Todd, said the most vulnerable in society needed to be protected from the dangers associated with compulsive gambling.He suggested that entities which made money from gambling activity should be called upon to support programmes to assist in counselling people on how to deal with gambling disorders.Minister of Education Ronald Jones said politicians needed to stop the blame game with respect to gambling. He said there was a level of hypocrisy on the issue where Barbados was basically already “covered” in gambling, with even the church involved in the playing of bingo.Jones explained that because of international dynamics, Barbados was being pushed in the direction of allowing casino gambling. He said Barbadian society had not yet decided its moral agenda.St George North MP Gline Clarke chastised Government on the issue.He said Government could not be telling people to stay away from gambling while facilitating it by allowing 349 gaming machines to operate across Barbados in locations other than arcades and hotels.However, Jones reminded him that his Barbados Labour Party was the force behind the introduction of one-arm-bandits to Barbados between 1976 and 1986.Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer Suckoo during her contribution stressed the importance of a strong family network in combating gambling addiction. She said society could not allow itself to become desensitised to the problem.