Letters to the Editor: Address social ills first

It is impossible for me or any
other individual to know the motivation of a person purchasing a raffle ticket.
I do not live in anybody’s head and can only assume to know a person’s
motivation for purchasing a raffle ticket. 
I was therefore surprised that Mr. John Flatley has argued in the 22 July
issue of your paper that a raffle is not the same as gambling because the
motivation is not selfish but altruistic.

 I accept that like me, he may not be a gambler
and that when we purchase raffle tickets we do so with the sole purpose of
supporting a good cause. But can he prove empirically that this is so in at
least the majority of cases involving the purchase of raffle tickets. And what
does he feel about lotteries when the proceeds go mainly to support worthy
causes like sporting and artistic development?

Today Cayman is a part of the
global village, with half of our population stemming from other parts of the
globe, with little real cultural or spiritual connections to our charitable and
religious intentions; while at the same time the goal of those selling raffles
is to sell as many tickets as possible to as many people as will buy them. And
of course we have a larger number of Caymanians that play the numbers every day
and some time several times a day that purchase rattles tickets as well.
Therefore it cannot be denied that at least in some cases, gain rather than
selfless giving is the prime motivating factor behind participation.

But the question I must then ask is
how many people with the intention of gaining from the raffle must participate
before that raffle would be deemed gambling by venture of the fact that some
persons participating will win at the expense of others. Furthermore why is the
enjoyment derived from games of chance not considered as an outcome of the
participation in an event with an uncertain outcome?

I will define gambling as the
wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain
outcome, with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material
goods. So even if 50 per cent of those purchasing raffle tickets did so in the
hope of winning the nice boat or the big car, that makes that raffle a gamble
and those persons are knowingly gambling. 
Perhaps a solution would be to ask the participants his or her motivation
for buying a ticket and if they say it is only to help the charity or the
church, then ask them to donate the money directly to the cause without purchasing
a ticket; but if they say to win something then do not sell them any tickets
because that would be gambling according to Mr. Flatley.

The problem here is that there are
always counter arguments to be made when we are not using empirical evidence.
The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands published warnings of the
dangers of permitting gambling in the Cayman Islands, using evidence that
supports its claim that gambling is a social evil whether it be legal or illegal;
however, there is a vast body of empirical evidence that contradicts their
position.

For preachers to condemn legalised
gambling because it will cause more crime and exploit the poor and enlarge the
pockets of the rich is almost hypocritical. Where are these same agents of
Jesus Christ’s humanity when it comes to the exploitation of Jamaican domestics
and other low paid workers in Cayman? Why the certain concern for the pockets
of the working class. They claim it will cause even more crime and I ask why
the churches have not been consistent in pressuring Government to build and
staff a mental ward at the hospital that can took into our many cases of
chronic criminality as was recently highlighted by the case of the young
burglar who was shoot dead.

Pastors all over this land will
roar like lions when it comes to gambling because they feel certain of victory
against so great a sin and social evil, but what have they done to see that
social services is not about handing out money but about changing lives. Or is
it that unless the socially sick and criminally insane be born again in their
faith, there is no reason to fight for government legislation and programmes
that will assist these afflicted members of our society.   

Frank McField

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