The Caribbean twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago is about to ban online and land-based gambling and has already banned casino slot machines with almost immediate effect after Prime Minister Patrick Manning said that they encouraged vice. Mr. Manning said at his recent budget proposal speech that gaming activities are a ‘great concern’ to the country. He announced that he would also discontinue the Republic’s national lottery and declared that slot machines and casinos were illegal with immediate effect.
It seems that, unlike the US, Mr. Manning has no intentions of supporting land based gambling activities, especially the state lottery, which in many countries is the source for billions of dollars worth of revenue each year to support the building and renovation of schools and other necessary state expenses. Countries such as the US and Germany could not afford to fund many state expenses in the interest of their citizens without their state lotteries for revenue income.
In the US, state lotteries in 38 states support the funding of new schools, institutional, and educational expenses and in Germany, the million euro state lotteries mostly fund the country’s military expenditures. These are only a few examples.
No final date of implemetation was given for the Internet and online gambling ban by Mr. Manning. This development, which has surprised many in the country, comes just one week after the U.S. passed legislation to prohibit US based players and gamblers from using credit cards, cheques and electronic transactions to pay and play at online gaming establishments mostly based outside of the US.
Although the US has made it only illegal to transfer funds to online gambling sites, with yet the final bill to ban online gambling in its entity still to go through with George Bush’s final approval and signature, and which is expected in just a few weeks, the US has in no way made it illegal to gamble on land. In effect, the US government is forcing its citizens to spend their hard-earned income on US land based gambling such as race track, lotteries and brick and mortar land casinos.
According to the US Government Code Section 8880.5 “the use of (state) lottery funds are limited to instructional purposes and states that”…no funds shall be spent for…any other noninstructional purpose.” Currently, the support budget of the California State University is represented by the four “Program” categories of INSTRUCTION, ACADEMIC SUPPORT, STUDENT SERVICES, and INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT. Lottery-funded instructional costs can best be defined as the program categories included in INSTRUCTION, ACADEMIC SUPPORT and in very limited instances to INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT, since they represent costs most directly related to classroom instruction and system wide implementation costs”.
In the US state of Oregon, “Oregonians vote to approve the broad categories that may receive Oregon Lottery funds, and have approved Constitutional amendments allowing Lottery funds to be used for economic development (1984), public education (1995) and natural resource programs (1998). Then, every two years, Oregon’s Legislature and Governor decide which specific programs and projects within those categories receive Lottery profits. During the biennium (2001-2003), almost 63% of all Lottery profits, nearly $430 million were going to public education. The remainder goes to economic development, parks and natural resources, and problem gambling treatment programs”.
38 US states all have and will continue to have state lotteries; mostly supporting various types of educational funding and where voters can also apply for funding via application to each state.
Mrs. Manning, the Minister of Education of Trinidad & Tobago and the wife of the Prime Minister Mr. Manning, seems to have in no way tried to have influenced the Prime Minister in his decision to stop the state lottery rather than direct it towards the country’s own educational and institutional funding purposes. Trinidad & Tobago has apparently only recently opened a new University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) which could have well made more than sufficient use of the state’s lottery funds.
On further investigation of Trinidad & Tobago’s state lottery system however, it was not clear that the state lottery supported any public funds as is typical in most countries which operate state lotteries as a means of revenue. In countries where state lotteries are regarded as meaningful revenue, citizens are given the democratic right to gamble, if only to support state institutions; in essence, ‘vice’ is turned into ‘the good’. Through such methods, gamblers are free to engage in a ‘vice’ on their own responsibility whilst supporting state funding for much-needed education and state construction.
To date, our team has not been able to decipher whether the Trinidad & Tobago state lottery was ever mandated to report on its income and what the funds from the lottery were directed to achieve as a beneficial goal to the country’s citizens.
The opposition party in Trinidad & Tobago, having already delivered its’ response to Mr. Manning’s apparently shocking budget decision via Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, apparently did not comment on the issue of the intent to make internet gambling illegal as well as to stop all land casinos, gambling for monies ‘paid to the house’ and the state lottery from operating within the country.
Indeed, the Prime Minister seems to be on a hard line political drive to make it illegal for many of the country’s citizens to even gamble at their own homes without question as to the true reasons why other countries, with particular emphasis on the US, may be moving so aggressively against online gambling.
Needless to say, Mr. Manning has appeared to have taken his cue from an apparent incorrect perception of the real reasons why the US is presently cracking down on online and internet gambling (not house gambling); that is, essentially to keep it’s citizen’s money in its own ‘house’ together with all of the $12 billion dollars worth of yearly US dollars in profits which presently go out of the ‘house’ door to foreign-based online gaming companies.
Such a political move which the US has recently implemented has been criticized by many worldwide and in the US, to be fundamentally non-democratic and even socialist.
Many, including Americans, are beginning to ask themselves the question of what the Republicans would request of US citizens next; perhaps forbidding them to drink alcohol or to spend their hard-earned money for ‘foreign’ holidays on ‘local’ soil. Mr. Manning, along with his Budget speech, also delivered his intentions to raise serious taxes on smoking and alcohol products.
What with these new world developments, one is reminded in uncanny fashion of Adolf Hitler’s methods to encourage the German people to promote healthy lifestyles, engage heavily in sports, non-alcoholic consumption and to not partake in all forms of ‘vice’ which affect the body and mind and prevented one from becoming the ‘perfect race’. Hitler also encouraged his citizens to spend holidays on German territory and the like.
Many also expect that political moves such as the complete banning of state lotteries will further encourage governments to get their money from other sources because they are suddenly not able to earn sufficient revenue from its citizen’s activities, and are therefore far more likely to acquire much-needed funds through more illegal channels. In effect, as we have read on one site “such moves may lead to more state-controlled white washing of criminal money”.
It does not take much common sense to know that smoking in open areas on beaches, in parks and in cities much polluted by continuous industrial activity is far less likely to harm the collective health of all US citizens whilst the US government simultaneously moves to lessen or annihilate the much-needed political pressure on oil, gas and industrial companies to finally assume responsibility and finally and literally, pay the costs of cleaning up their immediate environmental pollution.
It does seem, however unintentional, that the politics of some countries seem to create and move more criminal activity into the forefront than foster new opportunities, desperately needed revenue and a basic freedom of choice in the interest of their public and the citizenry of their countries.