Gambling with our nation’s future

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Dear Editor,

Now, if not ever is the right time for our leader, Prime Minister Tuilaepa, to step up and make a righteous stand for the people of Samoa.

The proposal to make gambling in casinos open to all residents of Samoa has to be on of the most morally and socially reprehensible suggestions I have ever heard! 

The idea of trying to promote and encourage Samoan citizens to “spend more money at the casino” is so ill conceived it begs one to question the intellect and foresight of these supposed leaders and pillars of our society.

Hearing such comments as “Not enough people (using the Casino) means we are not earning enough money from it” or “ I truly believe that if we allow locals to go and play there, it will keep them from going overseas to spend their money” are just plain ludicrous. 

Have the existing casinos actively added any real value proposition to our tourism industry?

Where are all the high rolling Asian punters and their entourages purportedly flying in droves to Samoa to place their bets on our casinos? Have they been streaming into Samoa throwing their expendable mounds of money into our economy? I think not.

Most serious and financially equipped gamblers will invariably spend their money at the tables and slot machines - not at the accommodation providers or the many associated tourism providers in and around the vicinity of the casino. 

We have a dedicated Tourism Authority charged with promoting Samoa for all the splendid and virtuous qualities this country has to offer. Do we really need to stoop so low as to pretend gambling will somehow be the magical solution? 

To make the assumption that gambling will somehow entice and provide our fledging tourism industry with increased revenue is at best a immature and misguided though process. Ask yourself what the prospect of an open gambling regime will deliver and how it will provide any real positive achievement for the people of Samoa? Really, ask yourself this, and if you feel it IS warranted, please then explain to me and the people of Samoa what real benefits this misinformed and ill thought idea can offer? 

It is already evident that the problems Samoa faces with unemployment, poverty, obligations of financial support to the many churches and the dependency of remittances for income are a real struggle for the average citizen of this country. To suddenly present the (statistically) forlorn hope of winning the “big one” or at the very least “breaking even” with the limited family purse that most survive on is downright insensitive and irresponsible to say the least. C’mon people, we already have lotto and bingo to do that! Why the need for more??

The lure of easy money manifests itself in many forms. How will those opportunistic and sometimes desperate folk support the newly presented opportunity to chance their luck?

Theft, burglaries and fraudulent behaviour in the workplace will invariable increase to sate the money required to fund those punters, This can and probably will have the potential to lead to an unhealthy disruption of the family dynamic, an equally unhealthy break up of the many relationships will ensue. Depression and suicide rates may very well increase. Domestic violence too will succumb to this.

I don’t mean to paint the most negative picture here, but seriously…we already have enough pressure with trying to make ends meet and to support not only our immediate families and children let alone our churches (bingo nights & tithing) and fa’alavelaves. 

To promote the added temptation of spending an already limited budget on a game of chance is for me and example of total disregard for the people one is supposed to represent and genuinely care for.

To those MP’s who are making a claim for open gambling in Casinos a reality in Samoa, shame on you! Either you have no conscience towards your constituencies and the families within in them or God forbid, you have an ulterior (self serving) motive to even suggest such a despicable notion.

Back to our leader. Mr Prime Minister - please sir, stop this ridiculous notion and pull your ranks back into order before it’s too late!

You have the power to steer this nation into becoming a self sufficient and health country. 

Please do what is right.

 

Tony Callaghan

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