Thank you Hon Members. It is really gladdening to hear Hon Members make Statements that would bring the country together. It is very important. We live in a mysterious world and strange things are happening and therefore, it calls for some concerted efforts because “you are because I am, and I am because you are'”.
It is important that we tell those who engage in making other people look bad, that it is not a gift. In making people look bad, it is said to be a sickness and people should desist from it.
To let us appreciate better what is happening, we should ourselves start looking at how we are ebbing away the values and principles of multi-party democracy. The shine of democracy is dying off because we are not following the tenets, the values and principles of multi-party democracy. That is why strange things are happening now.
To assist Hon Members, you may please kindly read some two books: one is titled, “Democracy In Crisis” and the other is titled, ‘Republic on Trial' which is a book on the case for representative democracy and you would understand partly, why strange things are happening. This is because even where they are happening, they are shocking to good people.
You saw how Britain itself was shocked when they voted themselves out of the European Union (EU). How America was
shocked when Donald Trump won as President. Do not forget the prophecy that was said in as far back as 1920, about democracy. These are some of the things we are experiencing today and so the need for us to come back together to dig deep into ourselves, galvanise and try to rectify the wrongs so that we can move better.
Our brothers and sisters outside this House should be made to know that we are friends, we are not enemies. That is the natural course of things, that there must be diversity and that we agree to disagree. It is very important and I want to urge the media to try to convey that aspect to Ghanaians so that we can prevent the unnecessary antagonism of our political culture.
Hon Members, we would have few minutes more to take the last Statement which would come from a whole Reverend Minister, Hon Rev John Ntim Fordjour who is the Member of Parliament for Assin South Constituency, and it is on the proliferation of commercial gambling in Ghana.
The proliferation of commercial gambling in Ghana
Rev John Ntim Fordjour (NPP -- Assin South): Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity afforded me to make this Statement on “The proliferation of commercial gambling in Ghana”.
It is worrying to note the wide dispersal of gambling facilities and sports betting shops, throughout the streets and corners of rural and urban areas of Ghana. Availability, convenience and proximity of such gambling and betting facilities, are strong exacerbating factors motivating the youth to engage in gambling activities.
[REV. FORDJOUR] [REV. FORDJOUR]
In Ghana, gaming activities are regulated by the National Gaming Commission, within the legislative framework of the Gaming Act, 2006 (Act
The Ministry of the Interior reports that, as of April 2015, the National Gaming Commission had issued licences to twenty-three (23) casinos, twelve (12) sports betting companies and four (4) route machines (slot machines). However, many gambling and betting facilities exist and proliferate the streets of our country without the authorisation of the National Gaming Commission.
The proliferation of casinos, sports betting shops and gaming facilities, come on the heels of expansion activities of licensed companies by way of setting up new outlets in various locations in rural and urban areas, as well as illegal operation of gaming, betting and gambling houses, without the approval of the National Gaming Commission.
The regulatory frame of gambling, gaming and betting activities, as by law established in the Gaming Act 2006 (Act, 721), does not provide sufficient control measures for the management of the commerce. Furthermore, the lack of strict enforcement of the gaming laws by the National Gaming Commission and relevant law enforcement agencies, gives room for the proliferation of gambling houses.
Research conducted on the Social Impacts of Gambling by Dr. Gerda Reith as published in the Scottish Executive Social Research Report 2006, posits that gambling has tendencies of causing a clinical psychological disorder known as “problem gambling syndrome”.
Problem gambling syndrome is a behavioural disorder which is difficult to keep under control and disrupts personal, family, financial and employment relations. It inevitably leads to depression, addiction and in some cases, suicide.
It also manifests in other social crises as divorce, financial crises and crimes such as theft and fraud. Commissioned reports of large scale studies into the impacts of gambling reveal that, minimum of sixty-five per cent (65%) of gamblers had been forced to turn to others to seek relief of desperate financial situations caused by gambling.
This country does not possess the requisite resilience and capacity to contain the grave ramifications and hazards that the current state of gambling liberalisation potentially poses. There- fore, the proliferation of commercial gambling must be strongly discouraged in our society.
Mr Speaker, the principle and practice of commercial gambling and the proliferation thereof, are fundamentally alien to and incongruent with the rich, and bold cultural values of our beloved nation- state Ghana. The out-turn of society in the next thirty (30) years, shall not solely be a function of economic decisions and infrastructural investments, but also significantly, dependent on the socio- cultural decisions and influences we integrate into the society today.
In the next 30 years, we do not wish to see a population rather skilful at gambling and objectionable quick-money- genera- ting ventures, flawed with addiction and gambling-related psycho-logical dis- orders. I believe we would wish to build a society of honest, hardworking and productive population, endeavouring within a safe and competitive environment, epitomised by entrerpre-
neurial and job opportunities. We should seek to build a society in which our indigenous cultural values are preserved and sustained across successive generations, but not traded for insub- stantial commercial gains.
Mr Speaker, in article 39 (1) of the Fourth Republican Constitution of Ghana; the cultural objectives of the Republic of Ghana are stated:
“Subject to clause (2) of this article, the State shall take steps to encourage the integration of appropriate customary values into the fabric of national life through formal and informal education and the conscious introduction of cultural dimensions to relevant aspects of national planning”.
Clause (2) of article 39 further states that:
“The State shall ensure that appropriate customary and cultural values are adapted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of society as a whole; and in particular that traditional practices which are injurious to the health and well-being of the person are abolished”.
Fortified by article 39 of the Fourth Republican Constitution of Ghana afore- stated, I beg to state that the practice of commercial gambling is potentially detrimental to the health and well-being of those who patronise the commerce, most especially our innocent children.
Mr Speaker, the liberalisation of the gambling industry has led to increased availability and participation of the exponential growth of the industry itself. As reported by the Ministry of the Interior,
the gambling industry generated a revenue GH¢7 million for the government through licensing, between 2011 and 2014. However, the negative effects of gambling on our society cannot be overlooked, neither can we translate such undesirable effects in monetary terms.
Mr Speaker, the Gaming Act, 2006 (Act 721), may have to be amended in order to incorporate essential and adequate control measures required to mitigate the proliferation of gambling facilities across the country.
While we await a possible amendment of the gaming laws, I wish also to suggest to the Ministry of the Interior, National Gaming Commission, law enforcement agencies and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), to collaborate in constituting a gaming regulatory taskforce which would en- sure the conscientious and unbending enforcement of the existing gaming laws.
As I conclude, Mr Speaker, may I humbly implore all stakeholders; the media, religious leaders, traditional leaders, relevant State institutions and civil society organisations to join me in the campaign against the proliferation of gambling in Ghana.