Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley today painted a grim picture of a nation in the grip of widespread corruption, money laundering and organised crime were legalised casino gambling to be introduced.
He made the suggestion in his maiden reply to the Budget speech, a day after Government announced it is to introduce online and table gambling.
He conceded that while there had been no mention of casino gambling, he believed it was on the cards.
The Opposition Leader told the House: “The movement on taxes from betting and gaming from $3 million to $30 million in the Estimates immediately gave to me the first signal that perhaps something significant was coming down relative to this activity.
“If I am wrong I really would want to be told early . . . but that movement from $3 million to $30 million . . . . It seems to me as if we are intending to introduce casino gambling into Barbados. It seems that way to me. From these figures and from what was said yesterday . . . . It was not stated in the documents and it was not stated yesterday but it is my understanding.”
He admitted he was not in a position to give the Mottley administration advice on whether it should introduce casino gambling or not. But he warned that there were shady elements associated with such an undertaking.
He continued: “If it is intended to be casino gambling, and I am not here suggesting anything one way or the other as to the advisability of that, it simply seems that way to me and if we are going to do it let’s say so clearly, because whatever we call it and however skilfully we introduce it, then it still becomes part of our reality.
“But the caution would be that the countervailing impact upon our social and institutional landscape could well be realized in corruption, money laundering, organised crime and other socially undesirable phenomenon.”
Delivering the 2019 Budgetary Proposals yesterday, Mottley also said there would be a 20 per cent withholding tax on gambling winnings and a 17.5 per cent gambling tax on the net drop of all gaming establishments.
She said there had been a strong request from investors within the tourism industry to extend the presence of gaming tables and machines.