Emmanuel: Casino decision continues flip-flopping trend

Friday 11th December 2020

The temporary entrance

PHILIPSBURG--Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel said on Thursday that Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila De Weever's decision to allow Rouge et Noir Casino to use its emergency exit on Cannegieter Street as a main entrance is in violation of the existing ministerial decree.

De Weever had ordered the casino to close in late November for violating the terms of its ministerial decree. De Weever said at the time of the closure that the casino had been operating under a decree that specified that it cannot use its backdoor entrance on Cannegieter Street as its main entrance, which was being done.

She said at the time that the casino was to remain closed until it could come with a timeline and solution on how and when it would have its Back Street entrance ready.

In a press statement earlier this week, De Weever said she will allow the casino to temporarily use its Cannegieter Street entrance. This is to allow the casino sufficient time to carry out structural repairs to the building without impacting the livelihoods of its employees, according to De Weever.

"After this date, the casino must resume using its main entrance on Back Street, which is in accordance with the original licence conditions. Noncompliance with this decision will result in the closure of the casino," De Weever said in her statement.

Emmanuel claimed that the casino is not so much concerned about its employees as it is with making money.

"If that's indeed what the casino owners said. We don't know, since the Minister doesn't see it fit to offer the country an explanation longer than a few lines in a press release," he said.

The government's casino policy is extremely clear, Emmanuel said, adding that he will soon submit a letter to De Weever with official questions about the decision to allow the casino to reopen.

"Casino establishments ... cannot be located within a radius of fifty (50) metres of sensitive buildings where there are permanent/sensitive activities (that is, schools, churches, etcetera). With this in mind, a decree was formalised by the previous Minister of TEATT which states that the entrance facing Cannegieter Street must remain closed and must be used only as an emergency exit.

"Did the Sundial School move? Did the doctor's office move? The library isn't operating now in its original location, but did it move? The answer to all of the above is no. So why did the Minister allow this? Was there a new decree that supersedes the previous? We see that the Minister had already allowed casinos to stay open while other businesses had to close and suffer the economic consequences. Now this?

"The Minister came out, issued a press release of two lines like we are just supposed to accept it and move on. Like decrees and policies do not matter. A few days later, the Minister flip-flopped again and allowed the casino to open. The Minister's decision continues a trend of second-guessing and constant decision reversals by government," said Emmanuel.

He also said this about-face feeds into the "impression that there are ulterior motives."

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