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Grenada between loyalty and illegality. A paradox with an unfinished end

Friday, 11 August 2017

The little archipelago formed of 6 islands provides an interesting example of a country where population gambles, yet the gambling activity is not entirely legal.

In 2013, the population of archipelago counted about 106.000 inhabitants, who live on a 344 square km area, which provides a density of 307 people per square km. Grenada is the second large nutmeg manufacturer worldwide, after Indonesia. The official language is English, this country being a former British colony in the 19th century, but which, starting with 1974, had been earning its independence to the British Crown. From 1974 to 1983 when has been USA invasion, the country was a prey for dictators and military juntas.

Land-based in Grenada

Except for the National Lottery games (ex. Super 6, Daily Pick 3), scratch tickets and some state-sponsored bingo games, as to the rest, land-based gambling, are illegal in Grenada.

While other countries in the region provide the tourists who visit the country the opportunity to play, and to actually leave a lot of money in the treasure houses of those countries, Grenada persists toughing it out to not legalize casinos by the strong support of the Christian Church. Fear that indigenous people not start going ”wayward” is great. Politicians long debate this important issue on the daily agenda, but it seems they have failed to reach any compromise so far.

In 2013, the Government put on the table a legislative proposal for the purposes of legalizing this activity, stating its reasons by increasing direct revenues on the state budget and by attracting new tourists to the islands, but the opposition was strong. The authorities even promised that the access to the casinos would only be allowed for foreigners, and the access of people in the archipelago would be strictly monitored and restricted. They have not reached any agreement.

Online gambling in Grenada

Despite its restrictive policies towards live casinos, Grenada had developed a good market for online gambling. Since 1998, the small Caribbean State had allowed foreign investors to obtain offshore gambling operation licenses based on the Internet. Both bets on casino games and betting activities on sports events could have been manifested in the virtual online media here.

Online gambling companies have made minimal efforts to obtain such licenses, the state of Grenada not having claimed too much from them: the central office on the island, a bank deposit at basic level in local banks, and the license was ready. That was despite the facts that anyone on the planet is allowed to gamble under this license in those Grenadian sites and, moreover, the state laid no blockade for the island players not to gamble. Grenada’s luck is that Internet penetration among the population here is only of 34.7% ….

And yet, they gamble in Grenada

Yet, in malls and in certain street areas of the cities in Grenada there is the possibility to gamble on slot machines with cash. The state tolerates the presence of minors in these places and does not collect any money from the operating licenses from such ”arcades”.

Nobody wins from this awkward situation, this conjectural paradox. Both the population and the State lose the chance of a regulated and controlled market that could capitalize the trend and clear connection between the increment of tax revenues and of revenues coming from service and sales of goods related to this business, while allowing people to actually be protected by the danger of pathological game.

Which is the current status?

The team for the pro legalization of gambling on the island is the leader at the moment. There are more frequent discussions that certain ports of the archipelago, especially the capital St. George – which benefits from deep waters, allow the stay of cruise ships that ”haunt” the Caribbean Sea. We all know that these ships house gambling facilities.

Legislatively, in 2014, the Senate approved several guidelines on gambling in the archipelago. This happened after the Lower House of Parliament in Grenada had previously approved the legislation on this subject. It was also necessary the Governor’s approval and its issuance in the Official Gazette. The guidelines voted back then mentioned that live casino licenses could also have been granted only to those locations inside the hotels with over 300 rooms.

The continuous struggle of the Grenadian state bodies and the lack of cohesion on the basic question: who and what can bring welfare on the sixth islands of Grenada, brings things to a stand with serious losses for the economy.

Author: Editor

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