Former Saint Lucia government minister, Emma Hippolyte, has urged the church to speak up on social issues, including gambling.
She expressed the view that the church has been quiet on the matter.
“I believe there is room for the Christian Council and others to let their voices be heard,” Hippolyte declared.
The former Minister of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, recalled that while in office she spoke on the issue of gambling in parliament.
“I am of the view that we have too many of these gambling shops all over the place – they are too accessible to children. Anybody can walk in – do whatever they want,” Hippolyte told St Lucia Times.
The former Gros Islet MP asserted that Saint Lucia could well be growing a nation of gamblers.
She referred to recent reports of a commotion in Dennery where some women were demanding to be paid by a shop owner for money won in games of chance.
“It is telling us that as a society we are accepting too many things without trying to correct them,” the former minister lamented.
“We cannot determine an individual’s moral compass, but I believe as a nation we need to put the right environment in place and guide – guide our young people,” she stated.
Hippolyte explained that she was concerned before and is concerned now.
She called on the authorities to rethink this country’s position in regard to placing gambling machines all over the country and accessible to everyone.
Hippolyte noted that international research has found that gambling is addictive.
She recalled at one time passing through the William Peter Boulevard in Castries and noticing a line of women waiting to play.
“You have people – some of them not working. Some of them with whatever little income they have; they do not pay attention to the education of their children; they do not pay attention to nutrition; to health care – all they do is throw money into these machines.”