How could the BGLC not see this coming?
In almost all spheres of business, competition usually benefits the consumer. A case in point is the telecoms sector where LIME and Digicel are aggressively going at each other as mobile rates approach prices they should have been five years before.
In the gaming market, so intent are people in the population to get involved that the illegal side of gaming has still not been eradicated. I do not know if Supreme Ventures Ltd (SVL) is aware of this, but in Grand Cayman where Supreme does not operate there is an active 'underground' operation using the multiple draws generated by SVL's operation in Jamaica.
To the man at street level, he is still not convinced that the gaming industry must be, by its very nature, highly regulated and monitored and that the bar has to be set quite high for those who wish to enter what is seen as a lucrative business.
For this reason, a Gleaner article on Wednesday, headlined 'Gambling mess: Gaming Commission drops ball on due diligence' has placed significant doubt on the operations of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) especially where the article stated, 'The concerns follow confirmation by The Gleaner that one of the principals of a company granted a licence to operate lottery games was found liable in a civil suit one year before the licence was granted.'
If one wanted to be charitable to the BGLC, one could always make the early conclusion that something simply 'fell through the cracks' and the revelation would ensure that the BGLC would re-examine the entity involved to determine if the 'fit and proper' status matches with the high bar that the commission tells us it utilises at all times.
For the last five years at least, Jamaica has been trying to diversify its tourism product by not just thinking of offering gaming in the hotel industry, but by opening up hotels with casinos. With the Church and those who live on the 'better side of the street' than the rest of us already stating that casino gaming will bring about an apocalyptic end to our society, the very least we would expect from the BGLC is that it would step up its role at the due diligence stage for any entrant in that side of the business.
In the present matter, records will show that in August 2011 an entity called Goodwill Gaming Enterprise Limited was granted a licence. At the time it was reported in the press, then executive director of the Commission Derek Peart said, 'Yes, a lotto licence was granted. In fact, approval was given about a month and a half ago.'
At that time (August 2011) Mr Peart stated that while the licence was approved it was not yet issued and that final approval would be subject to 'certain conditions' being met. When he was asked by the Gleaner reporter what were those conditions, he said, 'I am not privileged to say, but the conditions are standard requirements established for the granting of a lottery licence.'
At that time it was also determined that the sole director of Goodwill was businessman Pradeep Vaswani and that Goodwill was owned by an offshore registered company called Punters Paradise Limited.
According to the present Executive Director of the BGLC 'Jack' Shirley, 'Our due diligence reports did not reveal any such thing' in relation to the Gleaner report that Vaswani was found liable in a civil suit one year before the licence was approved.
How could this be in a globe connected by a click on a computer?
At the very least I find it quite strange that the executive director of the BGLC could state, 'our due diligence did not reveal any such thing'. What does that say about his ability to perform his job at the highest level where it is expected that in such matters, 'healthy cynicism' cannot be considered a liability?
Was the FSC at anytime involved in this matter?
It is my understanding that late last year Goodwill was written to and given six conditions to comply with prior to the final granting of the licence. That would seem to indicate that Mr Shirley is somewhat on the ball, but it still does not explain how he could not have known about the court case in Aruba.
Did Goodwill respond? If so, what were the details provided? If Goodwill did not respond, what actions did the BGLC follow up with?
Is the chairman of the board of the BGLC concerned about this matter? In the course of normal business, it is my understanding that the principal of Goodwill would have travelled abroad to meet with those who would be providing the technology to power the platform that Goodwill would need. Was there any other person on such a trip who was not connected to Goodwill?
The public may not be totally interested in these details, but I definitely know that any competition in the gaming market would be welcome, if even to provide them with options and 'new toys' to play with.
I am hoping the 'fit and proper' document which I requested from the BGLC last Thursday is received this week.
The public in general see nothing wrong with flying foreign flags
One regular PhD reader of my column tore me to bits in his criticism of my article which asked why Jamaicans are flying so many foreign flags at World Cup football time.
"Just reading your recent column on the World Cup, it would seem that blind patriotism has rendered you haplessly loony."
Responding to my comment that, "With all of that fever inside me there is no way I could ever find myself sticking another country's flag on my car, vending stall, corner shop or gate as too many Jamaicans have been doing. Have we all gone mad?" the reader said:
"No! These football fans are showing that they have the intelligence to know when to surrender patriotism and give recognition to all peoples of the world as one common humanity engaging in a festive even.
"In first world societies, hoisting the flags of other countries during World Cup is common, and it does not rise to the level or consciousness of any respected columnist, in those societies, wasting ink on subtly highlighting unpatriotism. What are you? A Jamaican version of an American racist xenophobic, stupidly patriotic Tea Party member from the inland?"
One of the pertinent observations I made but did not state it in my Thursday column is that the cohort that I saw on the roadways of Jamaica flying foreign flags comprise the same ones who would, at the drop of a hat, drape themselves in the Jamaican flag when Jamaica is playing an international at the National Stadium, also known as 'The Office'.
This is the same cohort that drapes itself in the flags of Calabar, KC and JC at Champs time. Many among this cohort are the ones who are always chasing the buses, hanging out of them and uttering nonsensical stuff at election campaign time, either on behalf of the PNP or the JLP.
Many of them will tell you that they love their country, but too many of them dump their trash in the gullies and on other people's properties. Many of them are taxi drivers whose behaviour on the roadways can only be compared to that of wild animals.
Many of the men waving flags around at this time will tell you, of course, that they love their country, but stealing from an employee or a friend is par for the course. Urinating against a light post is just 'nature calling'.
My point is, love and patriotism must have their pragmatic sides. A man cannot love a woman and physically or mentally abuse her. A man cannot love his country but practise sloth, atrocious behaviour in public, poor public hygiene and still claim love.
Sure there is football fever, but it troubles me that the majority of those with the foreign flags stuck on their cars seem to be those whose loyalties can be easily switched with a US visa, a political promise or a dark hustling at the end of a lane.
I have the same problem with a man or a woman who wears a PNP or JLP plastic bracelet. Both have allowed the political party to define them just as the young people bleaching their skins do not yet know who they are.
Has Mr McKenzie gone mad?
In his wisdom, Desmond McKenzie, MP for Kingston Western, defender of the Tivoli model for umpteen years, the man who was publicly (inside Tivoli Gardens) whipped on his rear end by the creator of Tivoli Gardens, Eddie Seaga, has seen it fit to criticise Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams for attending the funeral of the late 'Bebe,' lover of the PNP and quite a few other things in his time.
Did Mr McKenzie attend the funeral of Tivoli don Jim Brown whose real name was Lester Lloyd Coke?
Let me ask Mr Mckenzie this. What was the name of the choir that Jim Brown sang in and how many angels accompanied him while he led off?
During the years that Tivoli engaged the security forces in gun battles, as councillor for the Tivoli division and with intimate knowledge of the area, did he provide the police with information to assist them in their investigations which came after?
Did he assist in compiling a list of men which was then given to Eddie Seaga at the end of 1994? Was Dudus' name on that list?
What was his relationship with Dudus between the time Seaga gave the list to then Commissioner Trevor MacMillan and in the days leading up to the extradition of Dudus?
Finally, from which moral pedestal is Mr McKenzie hurling his barbs at the PNP MP? When Eddie Seaga as prime minister met with Jim Brown and the previously terrorised residents of Rema in 1984, did Desmond McKenzie sit in as an 'innocent bystander' as Seaga declared, 'Let bygones be bygones' in the wake of the murder of Rema citizens?
I would suggest that Mr McKenzie 'hold him corners' and not add to the embarrassment after the public whipping by Seaga which he so proudly spoke of in such an inglorious past.
MCKENZIE... has criticised Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams for attending Bebe's funeral
CURITIBA, Brazil -- A fan of Algeria wears a Brazilian flag on his hat before the Group H World Cup football match between Algeria and Russia at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba on Thursday, June 26, 2014. In first world societies, hoisting the flags of other countries during World Cup is common, and it does not rise to the level or consciousness of any respected columnist, in those societies, wasting ink on subtly highlighting unpatriotism. (PHOTO: AP)