A “raw decision” to legalise casino gambing in Barbados, which will not be supported by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party.
That’s how BLP spokesman on tourism and international transport matters, St. Michael North MP Ronald Toppin, branded a decision by the current administration to offer special new concessions to the cruise industry.
In a new Cruise Ships (Opening of Facilities) Bill debated in Parliament today, Government will allow cruise vessels docked at the Bridgetown port to operate their casinos, shops, and bars for a 12-hour period between six in the evening and six o’clock the following morning.
But Toppin said his party did not see the island gaining any additional financial benefits from the policy, and voiced particular displeasure that casinos would be operated in Barbados’ territory.
“Barbadians have to understand that what is here today is a raw decision to legalise casino gambling in Barbados, that’s a fact, Mr. Speaker, that is what is before this chamber today, Mr. Speaker,” the Parliamentarian asserted.
“The Barbados Labour Party has always opposed casino gambling in the past and it continues to do so today. When you speak of casino gambling you are not speaking of a few gaming machines, you are not speaking of a bingo game type activity, you are not speaking of lottery machines.”
He questioned if government’s consultations on the matter had included the church given what he considered the “certain culture” that usually accompanied casinos.
“I would like to know what the Minster (of International Transport) believes the church would say to know that we have now moved to the stage in Barbados where in Barbados’ territorial jurisdiction there is going to be perfectly legitimate or legalised casino gambling activity,” Toppin stated.
He said Barbadians had “a certain tolerance level for certain types of gambling”, but that they “are not ready for, and ought not to be ready for, and I hope … will never be ready for, the introduction of casino gambling”.
The BLP spokesman also wondered why Government was offering such concessions to the cruise sector when the island was unlikely to benefit in any significant way.
“Allowing a cruise ship to stay in Barbados’ port, open up and operate a casino, open up all of its shops and all of its bars will not result in passengers, … getting off a cruise ship, coming onto the island, spending money and generating employment or other economic activity in Barbados,” he said.
“In fact, casinos in particular are perhaps the most popular activity on a cruise ship. When you combine that with the open shops and the bars, not to mention the dinners…and other activities like theaters and so on there is going to be very little incentive for a cruise ship passenger to leave the port in the face of what he or she can do on the ship, and come onto Barbados and spread any economic benefit to the country.” (SC)