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Reject casino gambling, Mr AG


TREVOR R. SHEPHERD

Reject casino gambling, Mr AG

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IT WAS ONLY a matter of time before our cash-strapped Government started flirting with the idea of casino gambling again.

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite displays a strange ambivalence on the matter. On one hand, he suspects there is too much gambling in Barbados already.

One-armed bandits, slot machines, horse racing and various lotteries may be already having a negative impact on Barbadian social life, he argues. Even churches have bingo, he points out. Then he seems to ask: how could casino gambling make things any worse?

I have two answers for the AG, the first quite simple. Not all items in a category are similar. Burglary, theft, fraud and assault are all crimes under the law. But a fist fight is a small matter compared with a drive-by shooting that leaves three people dead from gunshots to the head and a whole village terrified.

Similarly, there will always be games of chance in any society. But comparing a church bingo to casino gambling is likening ripples on a pond to a deadly tsunami.

But the real answer is more complex. Successive governments (and some private sector entities) have failed the Barbadian economy. They have gone the easy path – tourism. Let the tourists come and spend.

Underperforming

The really hard work of making the island genuinely productive was left half-done, so that currently, all our productive sectors are underperforming, if not defunct. We’re deep in an economic rut.

The appeal to casino gambling represents yet another surrender to laziness and poverty of thought.

You don’t have to innovate. You don’t have to be creative. You don’t even have to think. Just open some casinos and rake in the taxes. It’s another blow to productivity.

The reason why casinos (and most forms of gambling) are fundamentally wrong is that they do not create any real wealth. The few make huge “gains” off the losses of the many. People get richer because others get poorer.

Gambling represents one of the most anti-social creations of capitalism. No wonder that in many jurisdictions it attracts the unwelcome attention of organised crime like the Mafia.

And that is not a myth, Mr AG.

The casino debate provides us with a chance to be great again. A chance to let sound principle guide us rather than ignoble greed. A chance to be proud Barbadians, demonstrating the kind of guts that traditionally made us the envy of the Caribbean. A chance to stand rather than stoop. It provides us with a chance to say no to casinos.

TREVOR R. SHEPHERD

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