Opposition leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar says gambling addiction is wreaking immense havoc in the lives of citizens across our nation.
She said in addition to fueling crime, it is contributing to business bankruptcies, relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, child neglect, mental problems, financial losses and a range of other negative issues.
In a statement on Tuesday, she said the Government has repeatedly promised, budget after budget, that the gambling industry would be fully regulated. “In the budget statement of 2016, the Minister of Finance promised that ”we will put in place in 2016 a suitable regulatory system with appropriate controls to address chronic gamblers and other negative issues which affect families and the society at large”.
“After seven years, nothing has been done and they have now promised in this year’s budget debate that the government is moving to the full proclamation of the Gambling Control Act by December 2023 and the operationalization of the Gambling Control Commission.”
She said: “Of particular concern are signs that adolescents and young adults are seamlessly transitioning from video gaming to gambling upon reaching the legal age of 18 years.
The human brain finishes developing and maturing in the mid-to-late 20s. The prefrontal cortex is one of the last parts to mature and is responsible for self-awareness, the capacity for complex planning, problem solving, learning and memory, personality expression, decision making, and modulation of social behaviour. It is time to open the conversation to discuss raising the permissible legal age to participate in gambling.”
Persad-Bissessar is now calling on the government to fully implement and operationalize the Gambling Control Act, introduce an extensive educational program regarding gambling addiction and begin consultations with citizens to consider an increase in the permissible legal age for gambling.