“Atherley wants to know if casino gambling is coming”

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If Leader of the Opposition, Bishop Joseph Atherley was a betting man, he would stake his money on Government wanting to introduce casino gambling to Barbados.

While he did not state his position in the long contentious issue, Atherley called on Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley to reveal her hand if in fact this is was her intention.

Atherley’s comments were made during his response to the 2019 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in the House of Assembly today.

Acknowledging that such an intent was not stated in Mottley’s budgetary presentation on Wednesday, the St Michael West Member of Parliament challenged his former political colleague to correct him if his opinion on the matter was wrong, since he did not want to mislead the country. This, as he warned that such legislation cannot be “sneaked” in by omission of its name.

According to Atherley, his point of view was concretised by several particularly worded statements within the proposals.

“Noticeably, this move is said to be intended for tourists and intended to target foreign exchange.  Government expects to benefit from this activity by means of a 20 per cent withholding tax on gambling winnings and a 17.5 per cent gambling tax on the net drop of all gaming establishments. If it is intended to be casino gambling, and I am not here suggesting anything one way or the other as to the advisability of that, I’m simply saying it seems so to me, and if we are going to do it let’s say so very clearly because whatever we call it and however skilfully we introduce it then it still becomes part of our reality,” he said as he cautioned that the introduction could have a countervailing impact upon Barbados’ social and institutional landscape. (SDB Media)