THE EDITOR: What is a nation of 1.3 citizens doing with reportedly over 22,000 gaming machines?
The boast (or the horror) of a casino/gaming machine in every bar, in every village, on every street corner, might sound mind boggling but is out-of-control casino gambling already part of T&T life?
The owner of the machine in your little street corner bar is well on his/her way to millionaire status. TT is being drained of billions of dollars through this unregulated past time. The only winners are the owners of the machines with some of them being foreigners. They are bleeding us dry.
A shared story about big time gambling in London. A wealthy Iranian patient, a regular gambler at the Ambassador, near his hotel, The Dorchester, in Hyde Park, showed me a briefcase full of money won the night before. He said he was “allowed” to win large amounts because he was a special customer who referred friends to this high-end establishment. His visitors would call his name and they, in turn, could win. A fitting highlight of their holiday in London. Mind you, each customer had to play ‘big money.’ We are not talking $10 Play Whe betting.
In the First World casino staff are trained and they are not considered as minimum wage earners. These establishments are registered/ regulated and employees are amply rewarded. But here in TT, casino workers are small fry. The gaming industry is unlicensed and all profits lie in the hands of the owners. Easy money for local workers but very small in relation to billion dollar profits earned nightly.
Ask yourself this: Where are the trade unions when they are most needed? If TT is being bled of billions of dollars to wealthy foreigners, why is there no casino/ gaming machines regulation in place for this industry? What salaries do local casino staff receive compared to foreign workers? What is the long-term effect on our economy because of thousands of unlicensed machines?
Gambling is enjoyable but you can become addicted just the same as with excessive alcohol consumption and drugs. My rich patient drank only champagne but was also well addicted to both drugs and gambling, hence his trips to London for medical attention.
Rich or poor, addiction is addiction.