A national debate is currently raging in Grenada; should casino gambling be brought to the island in order to boost investment and encourage the tourist trade?
One of the protestors, Roman Catholic priest Father Sean Doggett, expressed his concerns over the issue, claiming
‘I can…visualise the men gambling out their money and homes being broken up and all the social problems associated with it.’
Doggett’s comments came on the back of Swedish developers’ Zublin Grenada Limited (ZGL) reapplication for a gambling license. They argued that casino gambling was crucial to their multi-million dollar project involving the development of a hotel and second cruise ship terminal.
ZGL argued that casino gambling would attract the lion’s share of financing for the project, claiming ‘We need the casino. The casino will trigger the finance.’
At the time of application, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas stated his own anti-gambling position with regards to the subject, but at the same time hinted he was willing to listen to public opinion. This position provoked outrage from former Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell who attacked Tillman for sending out confusing signals to the general public.
Whilst opponents to the scheme, like Doggett, believe that problems such as organised crime, family violence and prostitution will be exacerbated by the introduction of gambling, supporters of the venture argue that it will increase tax revenue, new business and boost the economy. They look to the Bahamas, where casino gambling dates back to the 1929’s, as an indication of the potential economic gain. There, gambling brought in over USD 20 million in tax revenue in 2002.
One thing is for sure, no immediate resolution is in sight, and the debate is set to rage on…