LEGALISING GAMBLING IN SRI LANKA
Posted on November 17th, 2010

by hela puwath

[The purpose of this paper is not to criticize those who havewritten about this issue, but to invite a serious discussion about the issue.] 

 Before Castro’s revolution, under dictator Batista, Cuba was “America’s house-of-ill-repute”.

That was before Nevada’s barren dessert rose to become (Las Vegas, the Sin City) “one of the most prosperous places on earth”.  The current economic recession has now, however, transformed that “most prosperous Las Vegas” to, the “most desperate city in America”.  Fun (sin) industries are the first to tank when recessions hit.

 Getting down closer to home: The law that legalized gambling (Casino Business Regulation Bill) in Sri Lanka, has been brought up in this forum, just once; perhaps an indication of our ignorance of the insidious nature of this legislation, or may be an indication of the power of the interested legislators and the power of the Casino Barons in Sri Lanka.

 What is all the more depressing about the discussions about this law are some of the reasons and justifications given in support of “Organized Gambling” in our country.  The following is a sample:

 1. Economic prosperity comes at a cost.

2.With time the effect of Legalizing Gambling will be no different from that of “the free economy” declared in 1977 (by J.R.Jayawardena).

3.To attract more tourists and foreign exchange.

4.The gambling law will increase the tourist arrivals from 700,000 to one million.

5.Gambling would supplement what the tourism industry earns through hotels and sight seeing. (a bonus)

 There are also those who believe that we are “strategically positioned” to benefit from India’s severe restrictions on her USD 75 million gambling market. This smacks right on what Batista, the former dictator of Cuba, did to reap the benefit from America’s restrictions on vise.  To understand what happened in Cuba in Batista’s ambition to benefit from gambling we invite readers to access Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fulgencio_Batista.

 There, under “Relationship with organized crime”

 ” Brothels flourished. A major industry grew up around them; government officials received bribes, policemen collected protection money. Prostitutes could be seen standing in doorways, strolling the streets, or leaning from windows. One report estimated that 11,500 of them worked their trade in Havana. Beyond the outskirts of the capital, beyond the slot machines, was one of the poorest, and most beautiful countries in the Western world. “

  “”‚ David Detzer, American journalist, after visiting Havana in the 1950s[20]

 Batista established lasting relationships with organized crime, notably with American mobsters Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano, and under his rule Havana became known as “the Latin Las Vegas.” Batista and Lansky formed a friendship and business relationship that flourished for a decade. During a stay at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York in the late 1940s, it was mutually agreed that, in return for kickbacks, Batista would give Lansky and the Mafia control of Havana’s racetracks and casinos.

 This is not to suggest that this is what is happening in Sri Lanka: but, leaders and government policies do change from time to time. The point being, legalized or otherwise, gambling opens up yet another strong potential temptation to corrupt not just politicians and officials, but also to corrupt religious institutions and ultimately the citizens.  However, in the end, the ultimate victims are our innocent women and children.

 Some believe that because our neighboring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Afghanistan and the Middle East do not allow gambling, that opens to us the golden opportunity to grab that bounty for our selves.   To demonstrate the fallacy of that kind of thinking we only need to look at America. In most parts of America casino gambling is illegal. In America the Native Americans live in “reservations”; there, people live is abject poverty.  Casino gambling was introduced in 1998 by “Indian Gaming Regulatory Act”, ostensibly, to help bring the Native Americans in par with the rest of America. The Native Americans, to this day, continue to live in abject poverty, where drug addiction, alcoholism, unemployment, juvenile delinquency and low education are rampant. To those who believe that we can lift Sri Lanka up from poverty, by feeding on our neighbors’ gambling addictions, the condition of the Native American must be a lesson.

 One report says the following about the Native Americans:

 It is widely known that Indians living on reservations have the highest unemployment rate in the nation and the lowest life expectancy rate. Reservations are often compared to Third World nations.”[McCulloch, 99-113]

 If our gambling advocates believe that gambling makes the gamblers rich or make them happy human beings, then they must also believe that Sri Lanka’s Casino Barons are destitute and they are a suffering lot!  The untold misery that has befallen our families – mostly Sinhela families – is not exposed by the media or by the protectors of the Buddhist nation, the exalted high priests of Malwatte and Asgiriya.  The misery brought on by this curse of gambling is not a visible phenomenal like drug addiction or alcoholism. It is kept hidden from view. It is the unspoken and unseen curse of, mainly, the Sinhela family.  Gambling addiction and its effects are treated not unlike mental illness, and unplanned pregnancy, in our society “”…” all hidden from view.

 For some mysterious and unexplained reason the main victims of this curse of gambling addiction in Sri Lanka are overwhelmingly Sinhela males.  But, the ultimate misery is born by our Sinhela women and Sinhela children.  We are not aware of any research done in Sri Lanka on the subject of gambling’s effect on our society.  To our knowledge, unlike in alcohol, tobacco and drug addictions, there has been no serious discussion on the subject of gambling’s effect on our society. Except for some recent whimpering by a few Buddhist monks, just before this Casino Act, there has been no visible opposition to this law. But, make no mistake, the harm caused to our society, especially to the Sinhela families, is immense and devastating. The harm caused by gambling to our society now, and to future generations can be no less than that caused by alcohol and tobacco.  This Casino Act will make it even worse.

  There are those who believe that we can isolate casinos for the exclusive exploitation of foreign tourists, in order to extract an extra bonus! Are they aware of the ground reality of such an exercise?  Be realistic, look at the ground reality, as it exists now (or until now), while the law of the land has been: “gambling is illegal”. 

 For a starter, who is going to pay the “Casino Cop” at the casino gates that would be entrusted with checking passports to weed out the locals? The government?  Even if the government paid these “Casino-Cops”, what is the guarantee that they will be any different from the traffic cop? [no offence to the vast majority of our dedicated, honorable law enforcement officers].  Will government employees be less prone to corruption, in a gambling environment?

 Now look around to see what it had been before this gambling law passed just this month, when gambling was illegal.  Look in any nook or corner of our cities; you wont miss a bookie-joint.  Many even beckon its victims with FLASHING NEON SIGNS “”…” “Turf Accountant Office”!  Somehow the signs must be invisible to law enforcers (and Legislators).  The law of the land: “gambling is illegal”.   It is said that the gambling moguls have somehow found loopholes in the law to openly flaunt the law. Some legislators even claim that the new gambling law was enacted just so as to strengthen the law against illegal gambling, by bringing gambling under the control of the central government. Is Colombo, where eight out of the nine casinos are situated, outside the purview of the central government?  How absurd!  

 The Casino is not just the gateway to gambling addiction.  It is the gateway to the “supermarket” of alcohol addiction, drug addiction, prostitution, pedophilia and organized crime!  After the heroic rescue of our country with the blood sweat and tears of our village heroes, our legislators and Casino Barons are attempting to drag us all back to another hell!  

 It has been reported that a deputy minister has announced that already some Singaporean casino moguls have shown interest in the casino ventures in Sri Lanka.  These must be in addition to those in our parliament. Gambling is a game of deception, designed to fool the foolish, and to excite the vulnerabilities of addicts – these officials are complicit in deceiving their electors.

 One Associated Press report quotes Deputy Minister Amunugama as saying, “Through this bill, the government intends to set up special zones for gaming in areas not close to temples, schools and highly populated areas,” A very noble gesture no doubt.  Does he thereby mean that this, “evil”, “ill-gotten” tax revenues will not be used to help Buddhist temples and public schools?

 On an ending note:  “Why not Legalized Prostitution”? 

Prostitution is a great side income from tourism, with no further infrastructure investments involved! Every male “foreign tourist” could be a potential player. Besides, look at Thailand, another Theravada Buddhist country, and the world’s prime destination for sex tourism.  They made a mint from that extra bonus income from tourists.  But, know that Thailand nurses the highest number of people with “aids” and other sexually transmitted diseases, in the East.  Make no mistake Sri Lanka too can earn all those extra bonuses from tourism!  Our legislators has given its overwhelming approval to help the “casino moguls” with no opposition even from their colleagues in the “Buddhist” Jathika Hela Urumaya.  So let the party begin with the gambling casinos, the rest will be painless!

 The Casino is not just the gateway to gambling addiction.  It is the gateway to the “supermarket” of alcohol addiction, drug addiction, prostitution, pedophilia and organized crime!  After the heroic rescue of our country with the blood sweat and tears of our village heroes, our legislators and Casino Barons are attempting to drag us all back to another hell!  

 Dear Mister President: VETO THIS MADNESS !

3 Responses to “LEGALISING GAMBLING IN SRI LANKA”

  1. Ben_silva Says:

    It is nice to hear the views of a true hela person’s concern about the hela land and Hela people. Hela puwath has raised very important points. The Government should closely monitor Gambling and If the disadvantages are more than the advantages, then Gambling should not be allowed. Gambling could seriously damage the moral fabric of the society. Even if allowed, should be done on a limited, strictly controlled basis. Any analysis should be on the impact to the society and not on the basis of religion.

  2. Samson Says:

    A waste of time.

    It has already become law. Everything has good and bad, more or less. It is now important to discuss how to mitigate bad effects of casinos than waste time on arguing on making gambling illegal.

  3. mjaya Says:

    We said hela puwath.

    We need to rally against this detrimental act. But please before anything else NOT AROUND THE OPPOSITION!! After all they proposed setting up “red light districts” in 2001!

    This government got a near 2/3 majority during the polls mainly because of the trust people had in President Mahinda Rajapakshe. Therefore our President should understand that one bad act is enough to bring it all down.

    Dear Mister President: VETO THIS MADNESS ! – Exactly!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

 

 


Copyright © 2019 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress