n May 7, 2011, President Correa launched a referendum for Ecuadorians to decide whether gambling should be prohibitted in the South American country. Results showed 45,76 percent of the population supported the ban with all 32 casinos across the nation forced to close their doors.
Why did Ecuador decide to end an activity that had been carried out for 30 years? What made President Correa call for the referendum?
Ecuador was shocked by the referendum to end casinos, bingos and slot machines in the country. I still don't get President Correa's aim in bringing that question. This type of entertainment exists everywhere in the world, gambling halls exist in Rome and even in Jerusalem. There were regulations in Ecuador that laid down rules for the activity, among them the prohibition of access to minors, customer service time, also the sector's activities were covered by municipal rules which were complied with by the book. I want to make clear that I am not and I will not be a speaker of this business sector. I only want gambling back because of the jobs and we also find that there are several countries that are interested in our position, such as Argentina, the United States and Spain.
“I think gambling and alcoholic drinks consumption lessen society's level of life,” Correa had said in 2010 prior to the plesbiscite sparking controversy amon the community, even anticipating that we would declare Ecuador a “gambling-free” nation.
What happened with the 200,000 people that were left unemployed after casinos shut down?
Only a few were compensated but most part of the sector's working force has no emloyment relationship. This is drivers, candy vendors, painters, electricians, computer engineers, decorators, air conditioning technicians, accountants, which must be added to the workers that depend on distributors. That is to say this is a sector that creates thousands of multiple ways of employment.
“We are ready to take our proposal to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva”
In the upcoming days, you will request to have the 873 decree that prohibits gambling void. Rafael Corre continues to be the president of Ecuador. Why did you decide to request that now?
The country is going through an unprecedented economic crisis. The federal government has no resources to pay suppliers on time, besides we have international economic duties. Oil, which is the first source of income in the country, has already been sold to international oil agents that make 1 dollar for each barrel they resell. Facing such distressing economic scenario, we consider our proposal is positive for the government and for workers because thousands of jobs are created and millons of doolars are made in taxes for the state that really needs them now.
What actions have you planned?
Being a NGO with 27 years on the field, we are ready to take our proposal to the highest justice tribunals in the world, like the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, that watches over the respect and the implementation of fundamental human rights.