Casinos — legal or illegal? - Monday 27th of November 2006

There is no provision in the laws of Trinidad and Tobago which provides for the operation of casinos or for that matter “Private Members Clubs.? Casino owners claim that they are operating as “Private Members Clubs.? What is that?

Chapter 21:01 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago defines a “Members Club? as follows:

“Members Club? means a club not constituted for the acquisition of gain the members of which contribute to the funds out of which expenses for conducting the club are paid and are jointly entitled to all the property and funds of the clubs.

Do casinos in Trinidad and Tobago operate in conformity with this definition? The answer is an unequivocal NO. Casinos are illegal operations and should be immediately closed down by the Police, all gaming equipment seized and the owners and operators charged appropriately.

For those who wish additional information, Chapter 21:01 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago includes rules for the operation of “Members Clubs?.

Should the Government of Trinidad and Tobago take a decision to permit the operation of casinos in the country (Heaven forbid), then such operation must be in conformity with rules and regulations which will have to be drafted and be approved by the Parliament.

It is instructive to note that under Section 45 (1) (m) of the Customs Act — Chapter 78:01 “Slot Machines? are and have always been an illegal importation into Trinidad and Tobago.

The question to be answered is “How then are ‘Slot Machines’ in operation in these casinos?? Maybe the Ministry of Finance can provide the answer.

For those casino owners who put forward a case for the operation of casinos in the interest of tourism, may I caution that should the Government agree to the operation of casinos in Trinidad and Tobago (Heaven forbid), they may adopt the Bahamas model whereby the citizens of the Bahamas are prohibited from gambling in casinos and winners are required to provide photographic identification in order to collect their winnings. The only winners in this matter will be the lawyers.

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