The Casino Ordinance is NOT Enforced……For it is alleged that Every Tom, Dick and Harry is Allowed to Enter…But Local Residents must earn an income of $75,000 or more to enter.
The Casinos Ordinance has been around since the first ministerial government. However, locals were not allowed to gamble in casinos. Hoteliers introduced casinos as it was an opportunity for them to diversify their income and to provide additional attractions and activities for tourists. The Government in turn made its money from the casinos licences. If the casino floor space is less than 6000 square feet, the Government gets $50,000 per year. If it is more than 6,000 square feet and less than 10,000 square feet, the Government gets $75,000 per year.
In addition to the above basic tax, the Government also gets a tax on the gross gaming yield.
Amendment to the Casino Ordinance in 2007
In 2007 the Turks and Caicos Islands Government made history by allowing Turks and Caicos Islanders, permanent residents and work permits holders to gamble in casinos as long as they are 21 years old and earn an income of $75,000 or more.
No Enforcement of the Ordinance
There is no enforcement of this ordinance as it is alleged that every “Tom, Dick and Harry” is allowed to enter and gamble in the casinos. If the allegations are true then, why is there no evidence to verify that the residents entering the casinos are making $75,000 or more? Why are individuals who are unemployed entering the casinos? Why are individuals who are making significantly less than the required amounts are allowed to enter casinos?
Can we Control behavior through legislation?
I know some critics may argue that we cannot control one’s behavior by legislation, rather we should ensure that addictive persons can get professional counselling. However, many other countries in the Caribbean have prohibit their locals from gambling because they know the effects gambling can have on society. Since this passage of that legislation, there has been an increase in the number of residents desiring to enter the casinos and play. If the legislation was not changed, our locals would not enter those facilities and become so addictive.
Are we Hypocrites by allowing tourists to gamble then?
The next question many may ask if we have a problem with gambling then why we are allowing tourists to gamble in the country. It is good question and I don’t have the answer. However, I know that the casinos were established for the tourists and not locals. The tourists are temporary guests and most return to their country and gamble anyway. However, if we can control our residents through legislation, then we should, rather than creating a society of so many social ills.
The Biggest Upset in Our Social Life
In my opinion, one of the biggest upsets in our social life is when the Government allowed the residents to gamble in casinos. Young people are going in these establishments. The residents that go there are gambling all their funds away resulting in problems in the home such as increased stress, increased arguments and lack of money to support the family finances such as school fees and rent. Gambling is addictive and is out of control. Addictiveness can reach to a point where people end up borrowing, lying and stealing just to get money to play or survive.
In the end we will all pay for this as the Government will have to finance the cost of treating and counselling individuals who are addictive. I am by no means suggesting that everyone that plays in a casino is addictive, I am saying if we do not watch out, it can become addictive.
I am aware of individuals who gamble thousands and thousands of dollars in the casinos.
Control It or Reverse It
If we unable to enforce this legislation then we should reverse it. We should resort to the ordinance what it was prior to 2007 where locals and residents were not allowed to gamble in casinos in TCI.
I know that even if we were to control it or reverse the Casinos ordinance, we will continue to face challenges in our country as we have a number of gaming machines and lottery houses. If we reversed the casino ordinance, locals still have access to gaming machines and lottery.
I know that our government has a lot on their plate but this is one piece of legislation that needs to be reviewed. This amendment should have never been brought to the house in 2007. We now have a new government in power and a different party. Please fix this as we try to save our next generation from becoming addictive to gambling.