Parliamentarians in the both Houses of Parliament have given approval for Casino gambling to become directly part of the tourism industry entertainment sector.
After emotional and passionate debate from members of the Senate on Monday, a divisional vote was conducted in the late evening in which the Casino Gaming Bill 2014 received five “yes” votes, one “no” vote and two members abstaining from voting. Already the 15 members Lower House of House of Representatives had given unanimous approval to the Bill.
“Now that we have approval from both Houses for the Bill, the process is not yet complete as it has to receive the assent of the Governor–General and be published in the Government Gazette,” Economic and Planning Minister Oliver Joseph told the media on Tuesday during the weekly post-cabinet briefing.
The members who abstained from voting on the Bill were Labour Representative Raymond Roberts, and Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Winston Garraway who is also a pastor of an Evangelical church. He has not publicly provided an explanation why he abstained.
Roberts informed the Senate that there is not a consensus about the legalization of Casino in Grenada among the labour movement, but they are aware that it can result in jobs through the construction of hotels, and jobs at hotels when the properties and up and running.
He explained that the labour movement will be keeping an eye on the decision by Government to venture into that form of business. “Yes it will bring jobs, but at what social cost” he asked, as he referred to documents claiming that casino gambling is linked to other social problems such as the destruction of families, and supporting acts of terrorism.
The Bill makes it an offense for Grenadians to participate in gambling activities at legalised casinos, and this clause was endorsed by Roberts, who felt that “the consequences for casino gambling on families can be astronomical if Grenadians are allowed participate in gaming at casinos.”
According to Bill, only hotels with more than 300 rooms can apply for a license to offer casino gaming as part of their entertainment package, and The casino facility must be on the same compound with the hotel.
In his argument for taking the “no” vote, Farmers Representative in the Senate Keith Clouden said that Government should find other sources of revenue instead of going down the casino road. His recommendation is for Government to focus on the productive sector. “Casino gambling is not the answer to our development; casino is a fickle economic activity and it cannot move the country forward,” he told the House.
By Linda Straker