A big gamble

Letters to the Editor

A big gamble

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

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Dear Editor,

As a country we continue to ride the continuous waves of COVID-19, dodging the countless curve balls and weathering the assaults this unexpected and very complex situation has brought on.

Now more than ever we are required to band together as Jamaicans to do what we must to emerge more or less unscathed on the other side of this global pandemic. It would be unlike us, though, to be fully centred on something so pressing without a B-roll storm brewing on the sidelines.

Dancing below the tide is the upcoming battle, which, by far, is the biggest gamble as the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) looks into whether or not it will grant a second, third or fourth lottery licence in Jamaica.

Over the past weeks word has come of “interest” being expressed by varied parties to enter Jamaica's gaming market. Currently, Jamaica, like most jurisdictions across the world, employs a single lottery model and, with good reason, population, size, legal, and fair trade issues, among others.

Globally, the consensus has been to advocate and, in many cases, revert to a single lottery model. Why then should we now begin to colour outside the lines?

Now during a pandemic and the unavoidable economic fallout we are willing to run the risk of reducing revenue, jackpots, and payouts even further. This just doesn't sound sensible.

My advice would be that we learn to pick our battles and leave systems that already work in place.

With news that one company has already made significant investment to the tune of US$3 million, it all sounds like a royal mess waiting to happen.

Supreme Ventures, as the only licensed gaming company in Jamaica, pays over a significant amount of tax revenue to the Government, over $6 billion in 2018 alone; opening the market will dramatically reduce this revenue. Are we willing to run that risk at a time like this?



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