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Cayman Islands’ Sports Minister says national lottery significant

hon-osborne-bodden-col_w300By Fred Sturrup, From The Freeport Nassau Guardian

The clamor for a national lottery is sounding louder in the region.

While in the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman to be exact, this past weekend, I engaged in an interesting conversation with the Hon. Osbourne Bodden, the Minister of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports for that country.

Acknowledging diplomatically, but without any reservation whatsoever that at this time, in comparing our two countries, the financial challenge the sports program in the Cayman Islands has, is not “likely” as great as The Bahamas, he indicated that a national lottery is the answer for both sister Caribbean nations.

“Since 2000, when I got into (mainstream) politics, I have been lobbying or a national lottery in the Cayman Islands. I am a strong supporter of a lottery and I understand that there is a great need for such a means of consistent money to assist the development of youth and sports.

“It’s an issue though that I admit is a tough one. I have not been able to push it further. In the Cayman Islands, the religious sector has so much influence,” explained Minister Bodden.

He readily was upfront on another factor. Bodden was quite frank in stating that views on a national lottery differ with his colleagues and those opposed to the Government of The Cayman Islands.

Such is the case in The Bahamas. There is a strong feeling that the Government of The Bahamas, headed by Rt. Hon. Perry Christie is leaning towards a national lottery. This is the government that pushed through the gaming act even though the referendum and the religious fraternity, for the most part, opposed legalizing the numbers game.

This time around, a senior Cabinet Ministeer, Hon. Obie Wilchcombe has come down publicly on the side of a national lottery. He has been loud and clear about his view on the matter in the House of Assembly. In the Official Opposition Free National Movement, Fort Charlotte Member of Parliament Dr. Andre Rollins, a former Gaming Chairman, favors a national lottery also.

Perhaps the climate is more favorable to test the market in a meaningful way, at this moment in time.

I see it as something quite necessary. There is nothing Un-Godly about a national lottery, I submit. At a time when the nation is struggling financially, the national debt is mounting because of the need the borrow, sticking one’s head in the sand, just won’t do.

A national lottery would foster a greater funding base for sports, culture and youth. Those areas within our society are essential to nation building. The truth be told though, if they are not financially fortified signficantly, there will be lost opportunities for development.

Minister Wilchcombe sees the light.So does the loquacious one, Dr. Andre Rollins. Across the way, the sports czar in our sister island group of the Caymans, is a proponent of a national lottery.

In The Bahamas, today, that is the way to go.

IMAGE: Hon. Osbourne Bodden

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