UBP: Gaming Not In The Best Interests of Bermuda

May 4, 2010

UBP Leader Kim Swan has released a statement on behalf of the UBP which alludes to the need for a referendum on the issue, and also says “Our position is that we do not believe gaming as pushed by the PLP Government is in the best interests of Bermuda or its people“.

Saying the UBP has ”carefully considered the pros and cons” and that they ”do not believe the small potential benefits of gambling cited by the Government out-weigh the substantial risks to the social fabric.”

The subject has been very controversial, with hoteliers, the Premier and others strongly in support of the concept, and the religious community strongly against. According to the Green Paper, gambling would add nearly 3,000 jobs and up to $146 million a year to Bermuda’s economy. You can read the full 79 page study here. Gaming will be debated in the House this coming Friday, although no vote will be taken.

Mr Swan’s full statement follows below:

Our caucus has carefully considered the pros and cons of gaming in Bermuda after reviewing the PLP Government’s Green Paper on the subject, holding public meetings and talking with people on doorsteps across the island. Our position is that we do not believe gaming as pushed by the PLP Government is in the best interests of Bermuda or its people.

We appreciate the difficult financial position the hotel industry is in – and have spoken many times of actions needed to help hotels – but even the strongest supporters recognize that casino gambling is not a panacea for the challenges facing the industry. Much hard work needs to be done to improve tourism in Bermuda and we will be happy to work with the hospitality sector to do whatever is necessary to restore it to health. This must be the focus.

But we do not believe the small potential benefits of gambling cited by the Government out-weigh the substantial risks to the social fabric and the economic integrity of our island.

Nonetheless, our members will be listening and participating in the debate on the Green Paper as members voice their views. The Green Paper is, after all, a discussion paper. Government then sets out its position in a White Paper, which follows after a reasonable period of reflection and consideration of the widespread discussion this exercise produces, taking into account the various views expressed.

This is a national issue and our position, ultimately, is that it should be decided by the entire community. The one way people can truly participate is by way of a referendum. Holding referendum on matters of national importance is a fundamental plank in our platform of better governance for Bermuda.

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