Open house on gambling

| 26/07/2010

(CNS): A number of the community’s most outspoken supporters and dissenters on the subject of gambling will be coming together this week as part of an open public debate. Organisers are encouraging everyone to come and join the open house debate to give Cayman an opportunity to discuss the contentious issue ahead of the planned referendum in November. The hosts, Generation NOW, which has brought together a panel of seven local people who are both for and against, said the community’s attitude towards gambling appeared to be changing and it was time to have an open discussion on the subject regardless of its controversy.

Olivaire Watler, one of the directors of Generation NOW, explained that the organizers wanted to introduce a programme of a series of publicroundtable discussions on topical matters of national importance. “The topic of this particular forum was my suggestion as I have observed that our gambling law is not being enforced and the mores of our community appear to be changing so that certain forms of gambling, e.g. lotteries, are openly practised and socially condoned,” Watler said.

He explained that the open forum would help educate the population, particularly young people, as to the pros and cons of introducing legalised gambling prior to voting on a referendum and would hopefully foster constructive engagement between the proponents and opponents of legalised gambling. “It is easier to demonise someone for their views when you are not interacting with them personally,” Watler noted.

The panel is made up of Billy Adam, Reverend Nicholas Sykes, Gilbert McLean, Pastor William Peguero, Frank McField, Annie Multon and Carolina Ferreira. Most of them have declared their position publicly, but not all. Ferreira. who of the hosts on CayRock’s breakfast talk show, has said she is not committed to a position.

“We considered her a good candidate as she represents a different demographic – young, female, new Caymanian – and has a reputation for boldly challenging accepted mores and broaching taboo subjects. We hope she will act to stimulate discussion,” Watler stated, adding that Generation NOW had asked the Tourism Association and the Tourism Advisory Council to take part but were unsuccessful in finding a representative.

Radio Cayman will be broadcasting the forum live and listeners will be able to call in and ask the panel questions during the event, but Watler said he and his fellow organizer really hope to attract as many people as possible to the event itself, as Watler said he wanted to see more people engage in these type of discussions and not just leave it to the those in the political arena.

“In my personal view, in our Caymanian psyche there is an aversion to discussing controversial issues publicly. It is perceived that this should be reserved for politicians or aspiring politicians. I believe that this hinders our growth and development as a people.”

Earlier this year the premier said he would initiate a referendum on the subject following a petition delivered to him by Gilbert McLean. Although the petition fell far short of the figure required to trigger a people-led referendum, and despite the submission of a much longer petition from the Cayman Minister’s Association against gambling, McKeeva Bush said it was time for the people to decide once and for all after years of controversial debate on the subject.
He said the country would go to a referendum on the subject in November this year. Although there has also been debate about opening up the referendum beyond the electoral register, which stands around 15,000 people, the law does not currently allow anyone other than Caymanians who have registered to vote to take part in a national referendum.

The RCIPS has also delivered mixed messages over the issue with only a handful of arrests taking place over the last five years while illegal gambling continues to grow at a significant rate.

The debate will take place at the Sir Vassel Johnson Hall at the UCCI campus on Thursday, 29 July, 7:00pm to 9:30pm. ‘Legalized Gambling: Blessing or Curse?’ will be moderated by Rooster’s Crosstalk host Austin Harris. Listeners to Radio Cayman can call-in 1-800-534-8255 or 1 800 534 TALK to submit questions to the panellists. Everyone is invited and light refreshments will be served.

Generation NOW was formed to promote and enhance youth development in the Cayman Islands through academic, technical and vocational training. The organization aims to assist young people to become productive members of society, while enabling them to openly embrace the challenges of today and tomorrow. The now in Generation NOW is an acronym. It means No Opportunity Wasted.The directors include Marco Archer, Eziethamae Bodden, Andre Ebanks, Donald Spence, Olivaire Watler, Stanford Williams and the patron is Naul Bodden.

The primary goals of the organization are:
To assist young persons within the community in achieving their academic and personal goals whilst empowering their minds.
To help them build character and leadership skills, as well as raising their awareness on the importance of lending a hand to others, and eventually giving back to the community.
To encourage more of our young people to diligently pursue higher levels of education in sculpting their own future, creating a sense of purpose in and amongst our youth.
To offer education loans, in part and whole in academics, technical and vocational training on a tertiary level.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see how an island this size can support a casino. Why would a gambling tourist come here to visit ONE casino when they could go to so many other locales and have several to choose from and cheaper accomodation/food/drink, etc 

    Do we really want tourists driving back after having drinks? (Assuming it will be out East)

    Maybe we could concentrate first on a monorail system that would be used initially to transport the workers back and forth. Imagine how useful that would be for tourists and residents to get to work and go on bar crawls…

    I’m getting ahead of myself…

  2. Dred says:

    The facts remain quite clear. The Lord gave us the ability and the right to rule over our lives and be held accountable there for all that we have done and are about to do.

    Now he wants us to do right but in the end he left the tree of life for us to find and in fact he begged us to not touch it but we did. He knew we would touch it because he is everknowing. Even in knowing that we would do wrong he left us alone to our own decision. This shows us that he wants us to act of our own free will to do right or wrong.

    In my book as a believer I see him as the most powerful. So why is it that churches believe they should MAKE people do right when even their heavenly father did not do this? Should it not be up to people to do right or wrong? I mean they will be held accountable in heaven and even possibly here on earth.

    Even today as some of us are sad at the death of Harryton and some are glad for it we remain under one solitary position. He had a choice in life to lead the life he led. Right, wrongor indifferent HE and ONLY HE made those choices. This was his God given right. In no doubt the Lord is saddened by the decisions he made YES but they were HIS decisions to make.

    When Churches act so as to interfere with people’s rights to make decisions about their lives they are in fact NOT doing God’s will. Is he upset at those that actually gamble? YES he probably is. But they more than likely know he’s not happy either and at some point they will have to reconcile their lives.

    Let me also state this. It is not wrong for churches and even the CMA to state their opinion but they are wrong when they act to change political decisions. They have no place in Cesars Palace.

    • Anon says:

      Dred, it is funny that you would choose the story of the forbidden fruit as it shows most clearly what happens when exercising our freewill to disobey God as we perceive that God must be holding out on something good for us  with dire consequences. This is precisely the position of the pro-gambling lobby of which you are a part. However, like Adam’s decision, such a decision does not only affect the individuals engaging in gambling but our entire society of which we are all a part.  That is why the issue is not merely a question of people exercising freewill for their own lives.

      To illustrate further, your argument would justify such things as legalizing drugs. Perhaps you would be happy if we legalized drugs since we should be free to exercise our freewill, and to mitigate any harmful effects on our society we have only to ensure that only tourists can take drugs.  

      The church cannot of course "act to change political decisions", nor is it proposing to do so. It is seeking to persuade others of its view as it is entitled to do.          

  3. Anonymous says:

    Instead of setting up a lottery locally in Cayman, why not look at joining the Caribbean Lottery


    With the population of Cayman, hosting and managing a local lottery would result in pathetic prize money, most of it eaten up by bureaucracy and corruption. It make more sense to license an existing product and avoid the complications that would arise on the island with the implementation of a lottery.

    And if you think that any of the major casino firms that eventually set up here are going to relenquish any control to CIG, think again. Wait until a law is passed allowing 100% expat ownership of casino businesses.

    The pros will outweigh the cons in the long run, provided the infrastructure is in place and functioning as it should. Just don’t expect any economic miracles immediately as their hiring policy will initially veer towards expats experienced in the industry and the majority of profit will leave the island.

    Remember, these guys are running a business, not a charity.

    What this island really needs to do is stop being the stroppy teenager and try and come of age and proactively resolve problems instead of whining about them…

  4. anonymous says:

    Need Help…I know no where in the Bible it says “no casinos, lotteries or gambling” but digging deeper..

    I think it is a big stretch to consider gambling a “love of money” or ” achieving wealth through deception”. Most gamblers know they cannot “deceive” a casino. And I sure they do not consider it a love of money over God given the heavy betting on Sunday numbers game. The closest I have gotten is First Timothy 6:10 but that seems to be more concerned with leaving the Church for the love of money. I do realize if one looses while gambling there is less for the family, food and the collection plate and that is not good obviously.

    Most people do try to get more money, by going to school and getting a better job, hence better pay, etc. Not sure that is not covered by First Timothy as a sin as well then.

    Enquiring minds want to know….should be good on Thursday.

  5. Say Aint So says:

    Finally we get a chance to publicly discuss gaming, Casinos, Bingo, Lottery, Video Lottery, Online Gaming. I hope the churches dont muzzel us from speaking on the issue. This is a good revenue source for government, it will provide many jobs for Caymanians and it will help to stimulate our dead tourism product.  My vote is yes!

  6. Ali Louya says:

    What are the latest odds being offered on the referendum?

    • Alan Roffey says:

      Very funny Ali Louya.

      The fact is, everybody gambles.

      The stock market is a form of gambling. Hedge funds and Mutual funds thrive on the spread.

      Investing in property, especially here and now, is a form of gambling.

      Running a contracting firm is definitely gambling. As is Developing.There’s always plenty of bluffing going on.

      Casino gambling would help resurrect the tourism pillar of our economy, along with our restaurants, diving operations and other services and might also generate some new construction for our contractors and their workers.

      Morality is the Churches’ worry, but there is supposed to be separation between the Church and the State in our secular democracy.

      Let’s no longer try to legislate morality about gambling when the wealth of the nation has been built on several forms of it.

      BTW, You won’t see me in the Casino though, its too exciting out here as a contractor.

  7. Rev says:

    Per my Bible, I say NO to gambling as it is immoral, but killing burglars is acceptable, because they obviously deserve it.

  8. Rick says:

    I don’t condone the "sins" of gambling, but I do condone gambling! One is human nature, the other is what you call gaming.  

    • Anonymous says:

      "Sin" is a bible concept! The real wrong is "Ignorance."  It is either you know or you don’t know. Your so called "sins of gambling" are just mere words and deeds committed by ignorant people. There is nothing wrong with human nature; people are just ignorant and thus make nonbeneficial decisions. As for gambling… if that is what the people want and the majority want it, don’t attempt to stop it. It won’t help ignorant people from being ignorant! :o) 

      And please don’t follow pastors and what people say!  Think and use your God-given reason for yourself!

  9. Anonymous says:

    why does there have to be a pastor and a minister on every panel on this island? are there that many people on this rock that need a priest, the church or a god to think for them!

    • Olivaire Watler says:

      This is a panel that is meant to represent a wide spectrum of perspectives on the issue.   One such perspective would be that of the church. We all should hold freedom of speech dear, and not only when we agree with the view being expressed.  

      • Ali Louya says:

        But only the wide perspectives of the 50% of the population that are Caymanian.  So you are using "wide" in the sense of "narrow".

        • Olivaire Watler says:

          If you disregard the nationality of the participants I think you will be surprised by the diversity of opinion. Nonetheless, three of the panelists originated in countries as diverse as Brazil, the Dominican Republic and the UK.  Others have spouses who originated in Germany and the UK.

          I think you are defining diversity of perspective too narrowly by merely referencing national status.  

      • Observer says:


        I seriously suggest you check out the credentials of your team. One at least has no credibility since he encouraged his friends and colleagues to invest in his worthless hedge fund scheme. They lost millions and no one, just no one has had the fortitude to pursue it. We need more regulation on this island.


  10. Dred says:

    I hope and trust that all people on both sides show up. I believe it is time we strip away this skin of this fruit to see what is truly inside.

    I personally believe that far too often we demonise things without any knowledge at all of how things actually work or could work.

    I will state my position and clearly. I am FOR gambling in the Cayman Islands under the following rules:

    1) Casinos in Cayman – It is either NOT open for Caymanians to gamble OR only for the wealthy and they would have to pay a licensing fee of say CI$5,000 or CI$10,000 annually to do so. If they have money let them pay for it. Licenses like Driver Licenses can be withdrawn.

    2) Lottery is allowed but not run by CI Government. CI Government collects a % of proceeds.

    3) Numbers is legalised but sellers and bookers MUST pay a business licensing fee annually like any business. Sellers need to have a sellers license also annually.

    My position is basically based on the following facts:

    We need to generate more revenues in the Cayman Islands and Casino gambling can generate upwards of 20 millions annually for CIG.

    One of our revenue pillars, tourism namely, has been degredating for many years and there seems no real recovery for this as most of our beaches are actually skyrises now.

    So far our position of being a non gambling jurisdiction is basically a pile of crap. We have been gambling here for ages and it’s getting larger day by day. The amount of money being spent on gambling annually could possibly put us in the black. We have done nothing to police this. So my position is if we are not going to stop it our government may as well make money from it.

    My belief is that the police will not be addressing numbers for some time and if ever due to the other more serious criminal activities going on.

    • Anonymous says:

      This may be a dumb question but can someone explain exactly what numbers is and how it works.  I’m not Caymanian and havent lived here forever.  I just need to be educated as to what itis, how it works and where one would go to play it.  Thank you, please.

      • durrrr says:

        go to your friendly neighbourhood numbers seller, pick a number 1 to 100. If your number comes up, you get paid about 60 to 1. It’s the biggest con going – there isn’t a casino in the world that charges a 40% rake (roulette is probably the best comparison,and the house edge is typically 2-5%), but in Cayman it’s thriving.

        • Twyla Vargas says:

          Better than that wait until Sunday morning and you can spend a meager One dollar and fifty cents buying a five piece and win $100.00 from  anyone up the lane. LOL.

      • Ally Gator says:

        It is a way for criminals to make agreat deal of money sating the demand for gambling amongst the poor in places where gambling is illegal. 

      • Twyla Vargas says:

        You are so funny, I love you I love you.  LOL.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Can we compromise and find a middle ground?

    Yes to bingo’s and scratch tickets etc, no to casino’s.

  12. Man says:

    “In my personal view, in our Caymanian psyche there is an aversion to discussing controversial issues publicly. It is perceived that this should be reserved for politicians or aspiring politicians. I believe that this hinders our growth and development as a people.”

    Truer words have never been spoken. However, when members of political parties, and I do not mean the candidates, seek to demonize and “gang up” by spreading vicious lies on independent voters, surely this is a contributing factor. The “free” thinkers have decided to “let” the politicians and aspiring politicians take the public beating, risk their jobs and social status. It is forums like this provided by CNS that allow us none aspiring politicians to have a voice on the issues under anonymity.

    So thank you Mr. Watler and your group for bringing this very important issue to the forefront for public debate. This is a great opportunity for everyone to listen and learn. Great panel too!

  13. Caymanian at Heart says:

    I have a question: do we have any sort of speech and debate clubs here on island for youth to join?  I am aware of Toastmasters and Rotary, but I am talking about an actual speech and debate team for schools or clubs

    In my eyes these clubs are excellent for encouraging public debates, building strong public speakers and introducing youth to politics.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hello… already a done deal