Politics

Weeks backs lottery for sports funding

  • Sports Minister Nandi Outerbridge
  • Michael Weeks (File photograph)

The Opposition has defended its proposal for a lottery to benefit the island’s young athletes, after Nandi Outerbridge, Minister of Social Development and Sport, branded the idea “misguided”.

The remarks came from Michael Weeks, the shadow minister, who said the Progressive Labour Party’s proposal would help young people develop their potential.

The lottery concept came before the House of Assembly in the March 3 Reply to the Budget, as a programme that would be directed towards sports funding.

“Our lottery idea is not a panacea but is an innovative way for our people to invest in one of our most critical resources: our youth,” Mr Weeks said.

Mr Weeks also criticised the MP for St George’s West for being “silent” on other issues, such as the plan to close the Lamb-Foggo Urgent Care Centre — and the One Bermuda Alliance’s draft proposal, which was dropped, to allow summer jobs for non-Bermudian teenagers.

“The PLP’s position is that we must develop innovative ways to help our youth reach their potential and help them understand that every Bermudian who has a gift should be supported and have an opportunity to succeed,” Mr Weeks added.

A national lottery has been discussed over the course of roughly 20 years, but earlier this week Ms Outerbridge said that its “cons far outweigh the pros”.

“A lottery is widely accepted as a tax on the poor in that people less able to afford tickets will buy them in the false hope that they will win against incredible odds.”

Her comments were contained in a press release which praised the efforts of Bermudian athletes at the Carifta Games in Curaçao and the Carifta Swimming Championships in Nassau, Bahamas.

“With a population as small as Bermuda’s, the costs of establishing, regulating and running a lottery would leave a limited pool to be paid out in winnings,” added Ms Outerbridge. “Any money dedicated to funding sports teams would be very limited.

“The Opposition’s statement is nothing more than political posturing — putting forward a carelessly conceived idea that will have a negative impact on the Bermudians who can least afford it.

“Through the recent Cash Back for Communities programme, the OBA Government took the proceeds from crime and directed those funds towards empowering our athletes, enabling them to compete against the best in the Caribbean. By working to improve government finances and eliminate the deficit, we will be in a better position to assist our athletes in the near future.”

With ten medals added on the final day of the swimming championships on Tuesday, the Bermuda team collected a total of 39 medals, including nine gold.

In track and field, high jumper Sakari Famous won her fifth-straight medal — a bronze — at the Games and Tiara DeRosa won the other bronze in the under-20 discus.

“Our young Bermudian athletes have truly shown that they punch above their weight in international competitions. Competing against much larger countries, our athletes have performed at the highest level and secured an impressive haul of gold, silver and bronze medals,” noted the minister.

“I look forward to welcoming the team back home and celebrating their achievements and encourage the public to come out and support our young athletes. They have made Bermuda proud. I also look forward to working with the Bermuda National Athletics Association on Bermuda’s bid to host the 2020 Carifta Games.”