Colm Imbert

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert

The Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Bill, 2021 was passed in the House of Representatives yesterday.

Twenty-one Government members voted for the bill while Opposition members abstained.

On Monday, the bill was passed in the Senate, with 24 members voting in support of it, including the nine Independent senators.

The six Opposition members in the Senate abstained.

Speaking in the Parliament yesterday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the legislation speaks to a rehabilitation fund to deal with the harmful effects of gambling.

He said the bill states a committee will be established to administer that fund and will formulate guidelines with respect to the use of the fund.

The committee will within three months of the end of each financial year submit to the minister a report on the activities and management of the fund and the minister shall in turn cause the report to be laid in Parliament, he noted.

He criticised Opposition MP Dinesh Rambally for questioning how the fund would be operationalised.

Imbert accused the United National Congress (UNC) of ensuring that criminals are not removed from the gambling industry because of their approach to the bill.

What about problem gamblers?

But Rambally said the bill paid lip service to vulnerable people most affected and afflicted by gambling.

“I am sure half the population will frown upon this financial restructuring of the gambling industry if only because they feel gambling is a vice and it breaks up families and causes degenerative behaviour,” he said.

Rambally said while he understood the need for compliance and accountability in an industry as huge as this one, proper attention should have been placed on victims of the industry.

He said problem gambling, compulsive gambling or non-substance addiction is a real medical and mental health issue, which requires medical and/or psychiatric treatment.

He said the bill failed to fully recognise the deleterious impact of gambling addiction on the mental health of the problem gambler and his family.

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