The executive of the Electronic Agents Association of Trinidad and Tobago protested outside the NLCB’s office on Duke Street, Port-of-Spain yesterday, demanding that immediate action be taken against illegal Play Whe operators.
The protest came close to three weeks after a Guardian Media investigative report on the illegal industry.
According to the association’s president Alan Campbell, a couple of days after the investigative story was published, police closed down several outlets.
However, he said the action didn’t last long.
As a result of the resumption of illegal Play Whe operations, coupled with challenges connected to the ongoing pandemic, many NLCB booth owners are failing to meet the sales threshold.
While Thursday’s protest only saw ten executive members taking part, Campbell warned that if sufficient action isn’t taken by police soon, protest action will be ramped up.
This would involve, he said, agents across the country joining them in a massive protest.
“This is just the smoke. If they don’t resolve matters, we will have to step up the action. We want action now,” the association’s president demanded.
Campbell added that while he understands the process to prosecute those behind illegal Play Whe will take time, the legal agents cannot afford to wait years for “Big Fish” to be charged.
He said far more immediate action is also required.
Police have been reluctant to give substantial information about their investigation into the industry.
Less than three weeks ago, Guardian Media sent questions about the industry and the alleged involvement of some officers.
In an email response, Deputy Commissioner of Police Jayson Forde said, “The TTPS is conducting enquiries into all aspects of illegal gambling in T&T. We have no complaints about police officers taking payoffs from any lotto vendor.”
Guardian Media was informed by a well-placed police source that the TTPS is close to a breakthrough in their investigations into illegal Play Whe.
According to a source at the National Lotteries Control Board, the illegal game is worth more than $1.3 billion per year.
The association also called for lotto booth agents to be allowed access to COVID-19 salary grants, saying their income has been reduced drastically during the pandemic.