That is the warning from president of the Trinidad and Tobago Members' Club Association
, Sherry Persad
, who agreed there was urgent need for regularisation.
said it was difficult to put a price tag on yearly profits but admitted the industry generates millions per year.
said the industry had yielded multiple benefits and she
predicted that gambling could market T&T as a major tourist destination.
Persad, who is also the director of human resources and public relations at the Ma Pau Members Club, said such facilities are governed under a recreational club license.
"Although there may be casino like activities, we do not have a license for a casino.
We have no casinos in Trinidad
, we have members clubs," Persad
That industry directly employs some 7,000 people, the majority of whom are single mothers from depressed communities.
"We also have some 30,000 dependents on that industry.
We also have lot of supplementary people meaning local entertainers, caterers and taxi drivers," Persad
said opportunities were provided to employees who couldn't even finish their basic primary school education.
"We gave them that opportunity to earn a decent salary.
We not only hire but we train and give our employees additional skills.
We also give back to the country through our charity drives," Persad
said regularisation was urgently needed as employees were currently debarred from obtaining bank loans and they were deemed "illegal.
"We pay Government taxes on all this equipment yet we are deemed to be illegal.
Nobody wants to work in an illegal industry.
What about our employees, they can't get a loan," Persad
said taxes were paid according to the different types of equipment.
A slot machine, Persad
, explained was taxed around $15,000 annually by Government.
In a bid to hasten the regularisation process, the association hired a lawyer to draft proposals which were forwarded to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan late last year.
said if the casino industry was to be shut down, bars should also be closed.
"When we talk about addiction there are many forms of addiction.
There are those on top like alcoholism and cigarette smoking and gambling falls way below," she
Commenting on concerns that the industry could face closure, Persad
warned that gambling would continue underground.
"The industry is going to go under, meaning it is still going to happen, maybe in somebody's house, maybe in a basement somewhere.
"That is going to make the problem even worse.
Asked if casinos were generally used as a front for prostitution and white collar crimes, Persad
, who has been in the industry for the past 18 years, said she
has heard of such claims.