Casinos for communities? - Political Quote

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Sunday, December 3, 2006

Casinos for communities?

There are moves afoot at the moment to bring roulette machines into bookies. I am not a fan of this type of gambling. For a start, don't bookies make enough money as it is? Secondly, a bookies' office does not have anything of the romantic feel to it as, say, Casino Royale!

The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell TD, says he is not in favour of the idea but is going to await the findings of the commission he set up earlier in the year to determine the future of such gambling. They are due to publish their report this month.

Does Ireland need more gambling opportunities? Do we not have enough already? Do we need Casinos? Are they a tourism draw? Do they contribute anything to our economy, our communities or our culture?

Not in my opinion. I also feel that the gambling industry does not pay enough to counter the costs and damage gambling and gambling addictions can inflict.
For one I would set a new tax on gambling which would go to funding treatment of such addictions and to lessen their impact on families affected. This is the least that should be done. Far from increasing the number of ways of taking money off punters we should be tightly controlling the industry.

I could only consider casinos in Ireland if they were to established on the islands, like Achill Island and Clare Island, under the auspices of the local community and run by non-profit community companies.

The profits from such would go into infrastructure and community projects for provision of broadband, housing for returned emigrants and retirement homes on the islands. They would also act as an out-of-season tourism draw to these areas of undoubted disadvantage. If we are serious about ensuring that the islands remain viable places to live we need to give these communities an advantage. Casinos could be that advantage.

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