Opposition Leader Marc Bean *File photo
Opposition Leader Marc Bean *File photo

Batting away any assertion that another betting shop would feed into the island’s vices, Opposition Leader Marc Bean says his newest business venture will bring 25 jobs to Court Street in North Hamilton.

Mr Bean, who is a business partner in Paradise Games, says the shop will be open within a month. He says he’s practising what he preaches in opening the shop, which would be the fourth such operation on the island. The betting shops allow for gambling on sport events but casino-style gambling such as poker are currently not allowed.

“Since I’ve been the leader of the Progressive Labour Party, my message has been…if you’re unemployed, instead of complaining, let’s compete. Don’t go begging for a job, do what you can to be creative and do what you can to create a job. I’ve been preaching the need for entrepreneurship. Now I’m setting an example”.

When asked, Mr Bean reject`s the notion that he is feeding into the vices of local residents. He compared it to opening a liquor store and chafed at the notion that it won’t bring any significant social benefit to Court Street.

“How would it take away from it?” he asked

Responding to a question about his shop enabling gambling addictions, Mr Bean struck a libertarian stance: “It’s not my right as an individual, never mind as a politician, to tell people what to do with their life. It’s not my right to control what they consume. Adults are rational beings.”

He also revealed that while he is content to make money off gamblers, he is not one himself.

‘I don’t like to bet’

“For me, I choose to not bet. I just don’t like to play. From a business perspective, sure, if people want to play and win something, fine.”

Mr Bean says he’s being targeted for criticism because he leads the PLP.

“Before it became public that I was involved in this, no one really cared about betting shops. If I was part of the OBA, I would be seen as a sound businessman, but it’s not my place apparently in the narrative of some folk in this country: the PLP are not business-minded. That’s the problem,” he said.

Mr Bean says his betting licence application was the first to be approved in 20 years, but since that time, he says multiple other parties have applied for such a licence.

“People sense there’s an opportunity, although the local market is small.  I’m not concerned that people will push me out of business. The market will get saturated, but that means you have to be competitive, you have to keep your costs at a level where you’re competitive. When it comes to business, I like to compete. It doesn’t matter who enters the market. If people want to enter the market, I wish them all the best.”

Mr Bean declined to say how much running the shop would cost.