Wed | May 24, 2017

Gambling hits the poor hardest

Published:Friday | July 31, 2015 | 7:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

From the look of feigned rapture on the face of the justice minister in the media (on July 30, 2015), one would think he had just been handed a coded message on how to reduce crime in this country rather than a donation, in the form of a cheque, from a renowned gambling organisation.

Beyond the moral, mental health or religious debates over gambling, lotteries are another example of how society preys on the poor, and they hit the poorest the hardest. Simply put, lotteries take the most from those who can least afford it instead of taking it from those most able to pay.

Legalised lotteries also amount to a hidden tax on the poor. They siphon millions a year away from local businesses - besides the stores in which they're sold. And judging from government ministers' attitude to gambling organisations in this country, everyone can win, win, win! However, most people never win anything big; and the Government probably raises more money from lotteries than from corporate taxes.

Gambling organisations are not ignorant of their true nature, and subsequently, they do seek to don the mantle of respectability through acts of so-called benevolence. Making public donations is one of the most cost-effective ways in which such gambling organisations promote themselves and their so-called respectability.

Legal gambling organisations may very well argue that they are meeting a need and thus responding to a demand. However, the Government has a role to play in protecting the public from itself. Our Government does not publicly accept donations from ganja growers, nor does it promote the use of cocaine, even though some people in our democracy, may enjoy snorting the stuff.

In my view, unless it be from the obviously most odious and flagrantly illegal operating organisations, it would be unwise for our Government to refuse a contribution from any organisation in the guise of benevolence.

Subsequently, while I have no objections to accepting donations from legal gambling organisations, I do contend that if such organisations are making a donation for altruistic reasons, they should have no objections to doing so anonymously.

STAN KITT