The Caribbean twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago is about to ban online and land-based gambling and has already banned casino slot machines with almost immediate effect after Prime Minister Patrick Manning said that they encouraged vice. Mr. Manning said at his recent budget proposal speech that gaming activities are a ‘great concern’ to the country. He announced that he would also discontinue the Republic’s national lottery and declared that slot machines and casinos were illegal with immediate effect.
It seems that, unlike the US, Mr. Manning has no intentions of supporting land based gambling activities, especially the state lottery, which in many countries is the source for billions of dollars worth of revenue each year to support the building and renovation of schools and other necessary state expenses top slot138. Countries such as the US and Germany could not afford to fund many state expenses in the interest of their citizens without their state lotteries for revenue income.
In the US, state lotteries in 38 states support the funding of new schools, institutional, and educational expenses and in Germany, the million euro state lotteries mostly fund the country’s military expenditures. These are only a few examples.
No final date of implemetation was given for the Internet and online gambling ban by Mr. Manning. This development, which has surprised many in the country, comes just one week after the U.S. passed legislation to prohibit US based players and gamblers from using credit cards, cheques and electronic transactions to pay and play at online gaming establishments mostly based outside of the US.
Although the US has made it only illegal to transfer funds to online gambling sites, with yet the final bill to ban online gambling in its entity still to go through with George Bush’s final approval and signature, and which is expected in just a few weeks, the US has in no way made it illegal to gamble on land. In effect, the US government is forcing its citizens to spend their hard-earned income on US land based gambling such as race track, lotteries and brick and mortar land casinos.
According to the US Government Code Section 8880.5 “the use of (state) lottery funds are limited to instructional purposes and states that”…no funds shall be spent for…any other noninstructional purpose.” Currently, the support budget of the California State University is represented by the four “Program” categories of INSTRUCTION, ACADEMIC SUPPORT, STUDENT SERVICES, and INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT. Lottery-funded instructional costs can best be defined as the program categories included in INSTRUCTION, ACADEMIC SUPPORT and in very limited instances to INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT, since they represent costs most directly related to classroom instruction and system wide implementation costs”.
In the US state of Oregon, “Oregonians vote to approve the broad categories that may receive Oregon Lottery funds, and have approved Constitutional amendments allowing Lottery funds to be used for economic development (1984), public education (1995) and natural resource programs (1998). Then, every two years, Oregon’s Legislature and Governor decide which specific programs and projects within those categories receive Lottery profits. During the biennium (2001-2003), almost 63% of all Lottery profits, nearly $430 million were going to public education. The remainder goes to economic development, parks and natural resources, and problem gambling treatment programs”.
38 US states all have and will continue to have state lotteries; mostly supporting various types of educational funding and where voters can also apply for funding via application to each state.
Mrs. Manning, the Minister of Education of Trinidad & Tobago and the wife of the Prime Minister Mr. Manning, seems to have in no way tried to have influenced the Prime Minister in his decision to stop the state lottery rather than direct it towards the country’s own educational and institutional funding purposes. Trinidad & Tobago has apparently only recently opened a new University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) which could have well made more than sufficient use of the state’s lottery funds.
On further investigation of Trinidad & Tobago’s state lottery system however, it was not clear that the state lottery supported any public funds as is typical in most countries which operate state lotteries as a means of revenue. In countries where state lotteries are regarded as meaningful revenue, citizens are given the democratic right to gamble, if only to support state institutions; in essence, ‘vice’ is turned into ‘the good’. Through such methods, gamblers are free to engage in a ‘vice’ on their own responsibility whilst supporting state funding for much-needed education and state construction.