How seriously do restaurant, bar and club owners take the issue of age-restricted sales? A constant issue in Saint Lucia has been minors being able to engage in drinking, gambling and other activities that they are prohibited from being part of by law. Can you remember the last time you were even asked to flash your own ID when buying a drink?
Many feel that the law is not fully enforced and the owners of establishments who sell age-restricted products are not held accountable for allowing minors to engage in such activities.
CAGE St Lucia—an exclusively licensed video lottery company that began operations in Saint Lucia in February—is taking a bold approach to this issue, not just to protect their brand but also the agents who have the video lottery terminals at their businesses.
With the help of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, Cage St Lucia has been holding a series of workshops to educate their agents about age-restricted sales—that is selling to persons below the age of 18.
The latest workshop was held at the Palm Haven Hotel and targeted agents to the north of the island. Another workshop was previously held at Greenfields Inn at Dennery for agents on the east coast.
Sales and Marketing Manager, Dana Augustin, explained that the purpose of the session was to educate agents about products that have an age limit for use, such as the video lottery games, cigarettes and alcohol and what classifies being a minor.
“We have a zero tolerance policy at Cage for the participation of minors in gaming,” said Augustin. “We care about the community and we want to raise the standards at which our agents operate. It is important that we portray a very positive image as we are a respectable company wherever we operate in the Caribbean. We want to make sure each and everyone of you holds the law up to the very highest standards. We each have a moral and social responsibility due to nature of our business, to our customers, to ourselves, to our community and especially to the youth in our community.”
Cage has hopes of launching the age-restricted programne nationally in collaboration with other companies that sell age-restricted products.
“We live in a very small society where sometimes things go unmonitored or unnoticed,” said Augustin. “Some of us who do notice don’t care to take a stance and do what is right. In the business of video lottery we all have to care. This is serious. Cage is working very closely with the Royal St Lucia Police Force so much so that we have gone to the police commissioner and said we want to work with you so that we can provide all our retailers with the information on the law and be able to penalize and terminate agents if they are found to be in violation. This is the extent to which we are going to ensure responsible gaming is promoted at a national level.”
Officer 117 Antoine from the RSLPF community relations branch called the workshop timely.
“We have been dealing with students or minors personally in gaming stores and we have not paid too much attention to the proprietor. We have put certain things in place and from now on we will be dealing with the proprietor as well,” said Officer Antoine. He explained that proprietors should not be allowing students or people under the age of 18 to even be in their establishments as it puts their livelihood in jeopardy.
Officer Antoine called on proprietors to be vigilant, to ask for IDs or some official proof of age. He quoted from section 27 of the Education Act of Saint Lucia which states that it is compulsory that persons from five to 15 attend school. He also read from Section 4 (7) that prohibited school-age persons from being in establishments that carry intoxicated liquor. There was a fine of $2000 and jail time or both. He read other sections that spoke to tobacco use and employment of minors.
“That is how serious it is. So if you have a student in your establishment when they should be at school you are breaking the law,” he stated clearly. “Get the documents. Ask for ID! At the end of the day it is not the student who will be in trouble it will be the owner.”
Officer Antoine also spoke to the group about conflict resolution, and how to react to minors’ attitudes. Agents were educated about working with the police in dealing with conflict and given tips on how to combat fraud, identify and reporting false identification and the penalties and consequences of not obeying the law.
Following the officer’s presentation Dana Augustin reminded agents that minors were not allowed to even be loitering around the area where the video lottery terminals are placed.
“If you violate the law we are going to terminate the contract and immediately remove the video lottery terminals from your establishment,” she warned. “We have no preference or bias.”
The rest of the day included interactive sessions that included a practical evaluation exercise and the General Manager Havanah Llewellyn taking questions.
Upon completion of the training programme the participating agents will become certified. Cage St Lucia also said that an independent body will be investigating whether agents are complying with the law. The third party, explained Augustin, will be similar to mystery shoppers who will visit the establishments randomly in order to assess the agents’ compliance with the rules and law.