Friday, September 18, 2009

Yabaki gets it right sometimes

from w
I really dislike the idea of a casino in Fiji. The only casino I've been inside was Crown in Melbourne and it's a horrible place. I went there only to write a story.
Anyway Akuila gets it right this time - as reported by Scoop New Zealand. There's a comment added after the article from 'Bubu' but that's not me and I won't republish it here.

CCF expresses ‘deep reservations’ on plan for Fiji casino
16:42 September 18, 2009Fiji, Pacific Press Releases1 comment
Pacific Press Release – Citizens’ Constitutional Forum, 18 September 2009
CCF expresses reservations on opening of a casino
The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) expresses deep reservations about the decision by the Interim Government to allow a casino to open in Fiji. “It is known world over that casinos can have collateral damages. Big time gambling can be a source of addiction leading to financial bankruptcy and irreplaceable loss of much needed family income, which could aggravate rather than resolve poverty,” CCF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rev Akuila Yabaki said.

“The opening of any casino would require strict legislation and it would be unfair discrimination to prevent locals from accessing the casino altogether or to place higher regulations on their participation than foreigners,” Rev Yabaki said. Suitable regulations would need to be in place to ensure that appropriate consideration is given to:
• The impact on social welfare and culture;
• Mismanagement of finances (possible increase in debt and poverty);
• Gambling addictions (and associate problems such as alcohol/drug abuse and depression);
• The location and/or number of casinos should be determined only after a comprehensive impact assessment report is done.

“It should be able to benefit the people of Fiji, including the local economy, and not just visiting tourists and overseas investors and measures need to be in place to address any adverse impact this development might have,“ Rev Yabaki said. “Only one casino should be sufficient for a country like Fiji.”

Some of the reasons why I dislike gambling are set out here in a statement by Tim Costello, currently head of World Vision Australia, a Baptist minister.
from Sydney Morning Herald, late 2007
State and territory governments rake in more than $4 billion a year in pokies taxes. The only exception is Western Australia, which apart from videopoker games in Perth's Burswood Casino, is pokies free. Our governments have a vile addiction to pokies revenue that is tearing apart families and communities.

Last year the gaming industry took more than $10 billion out of Australian wallets. And it is those who are least able to afford it who are most affected. The Productivity Commission's landmark 1999 report revealed that 42.3 per cent of pokies losses came from problem gamblers. That compared with 5.7 per cent for lotteries. More recent studies have put this at closer to 50 per cent of losses coming off the backs of the vulnerable and addicted.

The numbers are not insignificant. There are at least 220,000 Australians struggling with a gambling problem because of the pokies. They make up 80 per cent of all problem gamblers and for each problem gambler the lives of seven others, be they family or friends, are affected.

Close to 2 million Australians are in some way worse off because of the pokies bug. That doesn't include previous "generations" of addicts who can no longer be classified as problem gamblers because they have already lost everything and can no longer gamble.
drawings added later - Tuesday. I'd illustrated a story in a small anthology and found it again, and the other drawing was made as I waited for a Christmas luncheon for women to be set up - at the Leopold Sports Club. I discovered that I'd posted it and written about 'Wowsers' in this blog 23rd January earlier this year.


Andrew Thornley said...

Dear Peceli and Wendy,

I too agree with Akuila. This is not the time to introduce Casinos into Fiji and I am not a "wowser". The fundamental reason the Fiji Interim Regime is doing this is to support its struggling revenue base.
The Regime needs to face up to its economic problems, recognize the link between political repression and economic stagnation (at least in a "western-model" economy) and reject Gambling as a way out of their problems.
NSW is riddled with social problems stemming from addiction to gambling.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Andrew,
I'm closer to being a wowser than most of my family and friends. (Wowser: Aussie word for a critical person against drinking, gambling, and doesn't want others to have a good time.) My view is based on the notion that the love of money is bad. A society that puts money ahead of guidance by conscience is not healthy. What kind of visitors do we want in Fiji? Those who are obsessed with the chance of making huge sums of money? Or visitors who have a desire to be face to face with people of other cultures and bridge the gaps - like the young men and women who go to Vorovoro Island in the eco-tourism project there?
It's an easy answer for me, but for those desperate to re-finance Fiji's books, I suppose a casino seems an option. A dangerous one though.

Mark Simpson said...

“The opening of any casino would require strict legislation and it would be unfair discrimination to prevent locals from accessing the casino altogether or to place higher regulations on their participation than foreigners,” - Rev. Yabaki.

I'm sorry but I am not seeing the logic in this argument by the good Reverend.

"discrimination" as used in this context is common and accepted in most of our laws.. eg the prohibition laws governing alcohol and tobacco consumption (by age).

Legalizing gambling for tourists alone makes economic sense and guards against the societal ills that we all dislike about gambling.

"What kind of visitors do we want in Fiji? Those who are obsessed with the chance of making huge sums of money?" - P & W.

We don't really care what visitors come here; so long as they follow our laws, behave appropriately in public, and not disrupt our way of life. Gamblers are gamblers. Allowing gambling in specific controlled locations is not in any way going to affect the number of tourists who come here to go on a village tour in the highlands, or go diving at Rainbow Reef.

It's not likely these folk are suddenly going to wake up and say "bugger the waterfall and snorkeling, lets go spend our holiday in a a smoky room". No, the "travelers" we love to welcome will continue to travel and enjoy our Fiji.

There is another type of traveler, that gets off the plane, goes to Denarau, stays there for a few days, then gets on the plane again and leaves. Let these people gamble and throw their money at us and leave.

The gamblers would throw their money away in their own countries anyway.. why not here in Fiji, taxed at 50% and used by a responsible government to educate our children, pay our nurses, and support our farmers, who take a gamble every time they throw seeds in the ground?

My two and a half cents on the matter :)

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Mark,
I'm sure lots of people share your views and that's okay. In fact there's a few kava drinkers in our lounge room at present and they have all sorts of opinions about gambling that don't coincide with my view! One Italian kava drinker said when he was 18 he put two year's income into games at a festival and lost the lot. Also, one of Geelong's most highly esteemed men got into embezzling clien'ts money to pay for his passion to be a 'whale' at the Crown Casino in Melbourne. He's just come out of gaol!
About life is risky and taking chances - well, when I got married at Wesley Church in Lautoka, many years ago, that was a risk wasn't it! Ha ha.

Andrew Thornley said...

Dear Peceli and Wendy,
Your "gambling blog" raises very important issues. Mark has raised significant points in favour of a casino - there is no doubt that revenue is generated which can be put into government coffers.
It seems to me that the more funamental issue which needs to be discussed is: how far does Fiji as a society wish to endorse and live with a deep gambling culture? This is something the whole community needs to address and can that discussion be done in the current political environment? I do not think so. Methodism runs deep in modern Fijian society and Methodists were historically strong opponents of gambling because of the social ills that it brought.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Andrew,
Every few years or so the subject of a casino in Fiji is raised and the Methodists consistently oppose it on the grounds of the harm of compulsive gambling. Certainly it's a maverick move for a leader to make statements about a casino in the current situation. The pressure is on about finance I guess. Leaders of NGOs, religious organisations and those with the power to make such decisions need to consult carefully about what kind of society we want for Fiji. That's more important than just trying to fleece the tourists who like to take chances with their wealth or lack of wealth!

Mark Simpson said...

Hello again Wendy :)

You mentioned that there were some "Kava drinkers in our lounge room". Their tales of gambling misfortunes are interesting, as is the fact that they drink Kava.

"...big-time GAMBLING could be a source of addiction, leading to financial bankruptcy and irreplaceable loss of much needed family income." - FT

Read that again, but replace the capitalised word with "kava drinking".

Many men in our villages consume copious amounts of it, neglecting their wives and children, their farms, and their responsibilities.

It causes much worse damage right now then gambling (under the strict laws I suggested in my earlier comment) ever could.

Now, my question is... should the abuse of Kava by some, be cause for a complete ban of the substance?

There are those who dislike gambling for the social ills it brings, and others who dislike it based on religious or moral grounds. The first group I can debate with, the second will not be convinced by any argument that I can make. You admitted earlier to being a wowser, so let's just agree to disagree on the legalisation of gambling :)

@Andrew, thank you for your comment. You asked.. "how far does Fiji as a society wish to endorse and live with a deep gambling culture".

That is an important question, and for the record; I certainly wouldn't, hence my suggestion in an earlier comment that our citizens not be permitted to participate.

I agree with you that it is most unfortunate that the current climate is not at all conducive to public discussion on this. We can only hope that our dictators think this through really well and complement their own research with submissions from community groups and NGO's like Rev. Yabaki's CCF.

Andrew Thornley said...

Hello, Peceli, Weny and Mark.
Kava drinking - what a huge topic!
It has to be said that kava drinking is to Fiji what alchohol consumption is to Australians, except that in Australia more and more women are indulging in alcohol. In both societies, this form of "social" drinking is widely practised and I don't think that banning is feasible. The road to moderation has to be encouraged and the Methodist Church is now engaged on a campaign to get their talatalas to reduce their consumption as a "role model" for other people - particularly their male adherents in the village and urban situations. Less time around the bowl hopefully will produce more time with their families.
I am NOT suggesting because one can try to follow or urge a path of moderation in Kava drinking, then the same can apply to gambling. The two issues have to be discussed quite separately.
Kava drinking goes much deeper into the culture of the Fijian people than gambling has ever done.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Gosh, kava drinking is a whole new topic and I only threw it in because the guys were talking about casinos around the bowl on Monday late afternoon. Our friend, the Italian-Australian guy, phones up and says, 'I'm on my way,' whether Peceli wants to mix a bowl or not! It's only for an hour thank goodness, but an excuse to yarn... and sound off about the footie next Saturday as Peceli barracks for St Kilda and Joe barracks for Geelong!
PS I'm not going to argue about kava-drinking here though!