Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) said while gambling and betting can become addictive, persons also become addicted to a vast number of things such as food and sex.
Dr Wheatley was among legislators debating the Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Act, 2020, at the Ninth Sitting of the Second session of the Fourth House of Assembly at Save the Seed Energy Centre in Duff’s Bottom on Tuesday, June 17, 2020.
“You gonna ban food? You gonna ban sex? None of us would be here. You cannot ban it, everything in moderation. We have to look at this from a holistic perspective, and we cannot allow this whole activity to be unreasonably demonised. I heard the moral and religious arguments, and I thanked my colleague across the aisle for expressing them very clearly. But I took the liberty, Mr Speaker, to examine for myself what the bible says about gambling,” he said.
Dr Wheatley added: “I did some research because some would have you think that the bible outlaws gambling, and come to find out, the bible says nothing at all about gambling. Now what the bible will make reference to is greed, the love of money, covetousness, none of those things apply solely to gambling.”
He also called for the education sector to benefit from the proceeds of the regulated gambling.
Always an opposition
Meanwhile, Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Carvin Malone (AL) said he has noted that there is always opposition to everything that is done in the Territory, from the construction of the Multi-Purpose Sports Complex, to the original Tortola Pier Park, to the H. L. Stoutt Community College among others.
He said he sought the views of some sections of the Territory and: “Of the responses I received tonight, from the many persons that answered back, there were two or three who cited that it was going to lead to a moral decay if you legalise it. But most of the comments were it would help to regulate what is happening already.”
Similar sentiments were shared by other ministers of government such as Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities, Hon Kye M. Rymer (R5) and Junior Minister for Tourism Sharie B. de Castro (AL).
New revenue stream
With the introduction of gambling legislation, Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) said the hope is to have another revenue stream since the Territory cannot depend on the United Kingdom (UK) for robust financial support when facing challenges.
Hon Fahie also said: "a managed and regulated gaming and betting industry is also an opportunity to create jobs and to attract and earn revenue."
The Bill is yet to be passed and the House of Assembly will continue on Thursday morning, June 18, 2020.