Slot machines to be phased out

Only the signature of President George Maxwell Richards remains for the Finance Bill that will ban slot machines to become law, as it was passed in the Senate after midnight yesterday.

Among its many measures, the bill is meant to amend the Gambling and Betting Act that will phase out slot machines which are used in casinos and private members clubs.

As the Union of Members Clubs and Lottery Workers (UMCLW) claimed an estimated 7,000 people employed in the local gaming industry could lose their jobs because of the legislation, the Express confirmed the bill was not assented to by President Richards yesterday.

Minister in the Finance Ministry Conrad Enill had told the Express in an interview two weeks ago, that here would be a provision in the Act that will state the amendment will not become law until the act is proclaimed, and that the Government will continue talks with the gaming industry before any final decisions are taken.

Despite the contribution of Cindy Gibbs-Nicholas, an UMCLW executive member was sworn-in as a temporary United National Congress Senator, the Government benches were unmoved in their desire to pass the legislation.

The bill contains no specified proclamation date which means it can be proclaimed and have the effect of law immediately after the President signs it.

After yet another marathon Senate sitting that had begun on Tuesday at 1.30 p.m. 19 Senators voted in favour of the bill while the six Opposition UNC Senators voted against it.

Among the 19 who voted in favour of the bill with the 15 Government Senators were Independents Eastlyn McKenzie, Mary King, Parvatee Anmolsingh-Mahabir and Reverand Noble Khan.

They were the only Independent Senators in the Parliament Chamber at the time the vote was called and went to a division.

In winding up the debate on the bill, Minister in the Finance Ministry Conrad Enill said Government has become aware of very serious issues affecting some who are regular clients of the local gaming industry.

„There is another part of this business that is creating behaviour of individuals who have found themselves trapped into situations and do not know how to get out of it and what basically happens is that they trade information, they trade security details and put a number of people at risk and I will not say anything else on this matter at this point in time,“ Enill said.