I’m disappointed with the behavior of almost everyone on the gambling debate with the exception of the UBP and the PLP back bench. On Facebook the BDA likened the harm of gambling to the harm of alcohol and said that:
The truth is however that addiction problems will develop in a small proportion of people….whatever the “substance”. We recognize that alcohol is the most common substance of abuse/dependence, yet there is no debate over making this illegal in Bermuda.
This is true, but nor do we consider legalising and taxing cocaine production for the financial and tourism benefits, despite similar levels of long-term addiction as a percentage of the population who has partaken. Indeed, legalising drug use would do WONDERs for our tourist business.
Anyway, enough hyperbole and back to the reality of gambling:
Based on the government’s own numbers of an average of over $22 million dollars will come out of local pockets and into the pockets of the casino operators.
Depending on the assumptions we make about the number of locals who gamble the per-person annual losses range from $32,745 at 1% of locals gambling to $3,275 per person for 10% of locals gambling
22,266,666/680= 1% – $32,745 per person
10% = -$3,275 per person.
Needless to say, a small fraction of all gamblers are responsible for the majority of the financial losses. In any case, let’s pretend that we’re dealing with average gamblers.
During a 20 year gambling career that’s an average transfer of wealth from each gambling local to the casinos of between $64,901 in our 10% of locals case, and $654,901 in the 1% case.
In addition, gambling problems overwhelmingly affect young men of low income… you know, the same ones who are currently hurting the most and most at risk for drug problems, arrest, jail time, etc. Normal gambling debts incurred by problem gamblers is between $50,000 and $90,000 dollars – to say nothing of the lost income, retail consumption, and family support lost… and one of the big reason that people get beaten or chopped on this island is (you guessed it) – unpaid debts.