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Gambling Addiction ‘Just Like Cocaine’

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

A COUNCIL is being established to address the issue of problem gambling in The Bahamas, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands announced yesterday.

The council is anticipated to have a budget of $1m, Bahamas Gaming Operators Association CEO Gershan Major added.

Yesterday, a gambling addiction seminar was held at the Public Hospitals Authority. Both Dr Sands and Mr Major spoke at the event.

Dr Sands described the problem of gambling as an “emerging public health challenge,” adding the American Psychiatric Association has recently classified this issue as an official disorder.

He noted the APA suggests that problem gambling shares similar hallucinogenic characteristics with substance disorders such as cocaine and heroin abuse.

He added his ministry is creating a model of care that works in the local context.

“In charting a course for treatment and recovery of problem gambling in the Bahamas, one such evidence-based practice worthy of examination by all stakeholders is the establishment of a jurisdictional council on problem gaming or gambling for the Bahamas,” he said.

He noted international councils or comparable organisations already exist world-over, and have “strategic responsibility for problem gambling awareness, prevention, treatment and recovery, research, along with policy development, designed to impact persons and their families affected by problem gambling.”

“It is abundantly clear that this forum is the right approach to chart a sustainable course with meaningful resources, inclusive of a functional administrative and clinical team,” Dr Sands continued.

“It is not lost on me that this will require (a) substantial perpetual budget if we are truly going to address the issue of problem gambling and those affected by this phenomenon.”

Dr Sands provided reporters with more details on this council and its budget following these remarks, noting the “proliferation of gaming institutions” throughout the country.

“But what we have seen has also been a small percentage of individuals that have a serious problem controlling their gaming,” he continued. “So they spend their mortgage, they spend their children’s school fees, grocery money, et cetera, on gambling. It is a serious mental illness and it is impacting the quality of lives not only of people, but also their families, their kids.

“So we have had to modify our approach to incorporate the management of this new ailment into our mental health programmes.

“Now, in terms of the budget, the gaming houses are supposed to set aside a certain amount of money every year for this problem. And I want to find out exactly how much they’ve set aside, I’ve heard the figure $1m, and we now need to know how that money is being spent. Certainly from the Ministry of Health, it’s all a part of our PHA budget,” Dr Sands said.

When he spoke to reporters, Mr Major said the Bahamas Gaming Operators Association had allocated about $1m for a responsible gaming initiative.

“Due to the challenging discussions around the tax matters that related to our industry we had to refocus somewhat those allocations,” he said. “Now that that matter is settled, we are now back to 2019 with the new budget being currently revisited. So I won’t be able to give you the specific number, but it’s going to be somewhere (around) that or a bit more.

“And the purpose of the budget is to educate the public, create awareness, find opportunities to build capacity with our partners at Sandilands Rehabilitation, the (PHA), the Grand Bahama Health Services, as well as create an area for treatment, counselling, and support for persons who are most at risk or who find themselves and their family members challenged.”

Mr Major also noted in his remarks that five addiction specialists at Sandilands have been chosen to become internationally certified in gambling disorders— a rarity in the Caribbean region.

Comments

joeblow 3 months, 1 week ago

This information has been well known for decades, why fake concern now. Those of us who were opposed to gambling could see this ten miles off, but the gov't chose to follow the model of larger countries who see their populations as nothing but a means to generate tax revenue. They will legalize any vice for tax benefit and create laws perpetually to control behavior as a result of the addictions created. Insane!

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DDK 3 months, 1 week ago

So why do they think cocaine should be kept off the streets but not the gambling houses? Government has neither the guts nor the greed restraint to eliminate the cancer. It is hilarious that the gambling joints are supposed to set aside annual funds to help with the addiction problems. These politicians must have no idea how stupid and unbelievable they sound.

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Sickened 3 months, 1 week ago

Thank you PLP for legalizing this problem. Well done you insatiably greedy fools!!!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months, 1 week ago

And thank you Minnis-led FNM government and FNM party for being 'on the take' from the numbers bosses rather than repealing all of the web shop legislation and establishing a national lottery to properly fund our public education system. Equally well done you insatiable greedy fools!!!!!!!!!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months, 1 week ago

A mere $1 million bone throne to the Bahamian people (gambling addicts) by the Minnis-led FNM government that very recently granted the numbers bosses mega-millions of dollars in tax breaks. Meanwhile King Sebas of Lucky Charms and Prince Craig of Flowers Galore are raking in millions and millions of dollars from their criminal racketeering enterprises that have created and go on creating thousands and thousands of gambling addicts. The wreckage and grievous harm caused to our society by these numbers bosses (criminal thugs) is immeasurable. Minnis, D'Aguilar and others like them clearly have no conscience or shame for the scourge they continue to allow to be perpetrated on our society by the numbers bosses.

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TalRussell 3 months, 1 week ago

Yes, yes and yes Dr. Duane, why not asks American Psychiatric Association - why if Addiction Numbers be's just likes Cocaine addiction’- then why likes PLP did are current red shirts members appointed as crown members the Imperial cabinet done lining up again most willing accept directly/indirectly from the political campaign donations from the Numbers Man's, yes, no - granted nothing illegal about it but what about you Dr. Duane making a clear cut declaration about both if any benefiting took place going back from just 2017, or willing directly/indirectly shut off any financial benefit Numbers Monies come the 2022 general election.... looking too much like reds have more than continued in many faulty ways caused voters kissing goodbye PLP's?

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sheeprunner12 3 months, 1 week ago

Bad comparison ........... Rich people use cocaine, poor people use crack ......... Rich people use casinos, poor people use corner webshops.

But, Sands has a good point ......... Both are terribly addictive and dangerous to person/society.

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joeblow 3 months, 1 week ago

... rich people don't need to access government funds through social services!

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yeahyasee 3 months, 1 week ago

LMAO Ya really can't make this stuff up.

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rawbahamian 3 months, 1 week ago

This is a "Duh" statement but none the less web shops are being given licenses to open a new location on every major thoroughfare and giving the owners their blessing to destroy the economy, families and society and now you talking about treating the addiction instead of eradicating the cause !!! These people are suffering from the worst case of " cranium anal inversion" I have had the displeasure to witness !!!

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birdiestrachan 3 months, 1 week ago

The same people who were gambling when gambling was illegal are the same people who are gambling now. No one decided they were going to gamble because it was legal to do so.

Bingo is gambling and so are raffle tickets. Doc Sands knows this. They may have those FNM guys serious problems with folks of a certain hue becoming so rich,

it has nothing to do with love of fellow men.

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birdiestrachan 3 months, 1 week ago

In fact the numbers men may have been richer if they did not have to pay the government taxes. Sands Knows that Number houses did not begin yester day or the day before. Number houses has a long history in the Bahamas.

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DDK 3 months, 1 week ago

Not like now Birdie, not like now.

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concernedcitizen 3 months, 1 week ago

playing numbers have always been here ,,but not casinos where Bahamians can spin their pay check away in a matter of minutes ,,Birdie your political bias makes your reasoning illogical

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ThisIsOurs 3 months, 1 week ago

This is really unbelievable...they had a govt sponsored public campaign to talk about all the wonderful things gaming would do for the country and now we're talking about a new epidemic that's as bad as cocaine of the 80's. I wonder how long it will take them to see the damaging effects of Trinidad styled carnival irrespective of whether "someone" is making tons of money. (To be clear I supported a Bahamian "junkamoo" carnival)

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