100 Years Ago: Proposal For Bermuda Casinos

May 25, 2013

Politicians are still debating the pros and cons of expanding gaming in Bermuda more than a century after a group of American investors first proposed building casinos and a race track here intended to remake the island into a mid-Atlantic Monte Carlo.

The 1912 plans — aimed at drawing a wealthy East Coast clientele to the island — were turned down by Governor Sir Walker Kitchener following a lengthy debate in the House of Assembly when the majority of the 36 Members of Colonial Parliament balked at the idea of turning Bermuda into a gamers’ paradise.

One Bermuda legislator remarked that the island was opposed to gaming because “residents have an old-fashioned prejudice against suicides” — a reference to the fact  gamblers are said to attempt suicide at a rate which far exceeds that of almost any other clinical population.

Associated Press report on 1912 Bermuda casino proposal


According to a Government-commissioned study conducted by the New Orlean’s based Innovation Group, gaming has the potential to add nearly 3,000 jobs and up to $146 million a year to Bermuda’s economy.

Last year then Premier Paula Cox tabled the Referendum Act 2012 in the House of Assembly, saying it would be followed by a referendum on gaming in Bermuda in due course.

The referendum has not yet taken place, and when asked about a possible date Premier Cannonier said, “I don’t want to give a specific date, but certainly this session.”

Many from the island’s religious community oppose gaming, with dozens of religious groups forming a group aimed at opposing any change to the Act.

– Photo of “Northern Advocate” news report courtesy of Ian Sutton’s Gamingfloor.com

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Category: All, History, News, Politics

Comments (29)

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  1. looking forwards says:

    Absolutely fascinating, Bernews. Clever of you to track this piece of history down!

  2. They will be still debating this 100 yrs from now.Don”t think we”ll be here’

  3. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    Bermuda would have made a much better Monte Carlo…
    ignore all the James Bond images you have seen on Movies and TV.
    Monte Carlo is nothing like that.

  4. Kim Smith says:

    Hopefully by now the ships visiting Bermuda are being allowed to keep their casinos open while they are in port… perhaps for a fee payable to Bermuda, given I understand that this is not something permissible in other jurisdictions. This might take some of the pressure off of this debate… and keep it at arms-length.

    • Fed Up says:

      I totally agree, let the ship casinos be open

  5. Honestly says:

    Just go with it! We are going against the grain which can be a good thing! I set limits if I decide to go into a hotel casino! And that’s how I look at it. Put restrictions of some sort in place!

  6. OBA VOTER says:

    The same thing that blocked it 100 years ago will lock it today, the 5-10 locals who want a free percentage of the overseas investors profits, in perpetuity, for doing nothing but being the “local partner”

  7. swing voter says:

    bible thumpers will raise hell – no pun

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Ignore them. Biggest bunch of hypocrites & causes of wars that there ever was.

    • Hey says:

      The bible is not against gambling… Jesus kicked folks out of the temple because it was a temple… just like if you have people car racing racing on your front lawn, you kick em out ! I don’t know where in the bible it is against gambling. Churches have made this up completely ! You don’t expect to get rich from gambling, it just doesn’t happen….otherwise there would be no casinos in the world !!!!!!!!!! You go for the fun of playing. If you come out with a bit more, then nice, if not then you had fun playing.

      • Come Back Selecta says:

        That is the right attitude to have when you gamble. Never gamble more than you can afford to lose, which for some may be $0. Gamble for fun and take a chance if you have a few dollars. If you win – Great! If you are upset that you lost, then you have the wrong attitude or bet way more than you should. Go in expecting to lose and if you win, it should be a pleasant surprise because most of the time – it does not work out that way.

        • Fed Up says:

          not everyone has that sort of willpower

          • street wise says:

            Everyone has to learn their own lessons. It is not up to the State to protect people from themselves. You can gamble with the elite for big stakes here already — if you have the contact.

  8. SoMuchMore says:

    …and the battle continues.

  9. Triangle Drifter says:

    I am a suppoter of gaming in Bermuda but I realize that it will not be a saviour of the economy.

    I happened to be at a hotel casino on a California Indian reservation just a few nights ago.

    The dinner was two for one. Two $10 coupons, valid if another $10 each was spent, were provided.

    The restaurant & casino were DEAD.

    Casinos are everywhere.

    • Joe says:

      Exactly. I don’t oppose gaming in Bermuda but it won’t be the savior of our economy that many seem to think. At $400/night our hotels are just too expensive to make us an attractive alternative to other already established locations… Hopefully I’m wrong.

  10. Rock Watcher says:

    @Joe – Your absolutely right we killed College Weeks by out pricing Bermuda as a destination!
    Nobody is going to pay the hotel prices and airfares to come and gamble here – there are too
    many other much cheaper options! Just like College Weeks.

    • GoodIdea BadIdea says:

      But seeing as the only thing that gets the people off the boats are mostly inexpensive(ish) activities, why not get them to leave the boat at night for a show (already on offer), some gambling and a dinner (available – but need hook 1 and 2 to get them to stay).

      I’ve always said that it doesn’t need to be caesars palace – just a modest casino with a good wait staff, decent food and live music. We’re not going after the big time here initially. Just something for the cruise ship people to do while they’re in port.

      You know that at 5pm the average cruise ship person is done with Bermuda for the day. We need to give them a reason to stay on shore and enjoy what is there. The Lennon concerts is a great start. Hook #1 – live LOCAL entertainment. Hook #2 – great local food served by LOCAL people. Hook #3 – an open casino that they can gamble in if they choose. It’s not going to save Bermuda, but if you show people a good time on shore, they will come back in the future, tell their friend and it’s just steps away from their cruise ships.

      Just give them a few good reasons to stay onshore – we won’t move mountains but we’ll re-arrange a few hills at least.

      Just a thought…

  11. Building a better Bermuda says:

    Open gambling creates a sticky situation and quite often social ills that can get expensive to taxpayers, so any gambling on the island will need to be regulated, but there are ways to allow it that can minimize the infrastructure costs to the taxpayers and maximize the revenue to the government.

    1st bit of legislation, set up a fee structure to allow the cruise ships to open the their casinos between 10pm and 6am while in port. Charge a nominal fee based on number of rooms and nights in port, say $10 a room/night. Ak any cruise ship and they will tell you that in pretty much any port, about 80% of their guests are back inboard for the night by 10pm, so it is not like this will impact visitors to our local nightlife activity, those who want to go out will. This would require the bare minimum of Bermudian oversight.

    2nd bit of legislation, allow hotels to operate casinos on premises, whether they be operated by the hotel or leased to someone to operate it for them, and that they be open to hotel guests only. Fee/licensing structure could be based on type of gaming complex being offered (ie just gaming machines or tables and what games at tables). If a local wants to gamble, they can get a room. Bonus for hotel, but they would be required to provide daily or weekly financial reporting of the monies exchanged at what game. This would require some additional staffing to monitor in the form of a gaming comission that could be run directly under the Ministry of Finance. The gaming comission and it’s officers could be a mix of Ministry staff and police

    3rd bit of legislation, set up the regulations for a local gambling league. An organization (fictional example – The Professional Pokers Players of Bermuda) can pay an annual fee to governement and will be required to provide a registered membership to the government, updated whenever they get new members, and register games before they are held, members and monies involved. Again, this would fall under a gaming comission in the Ministry of Finance

  12. Rick Olson says:

    If you gamble your room is discounted and often FREE ! Something to do with cash flow ?

    • Ringmaster says:

      Rather like someone being enthralled with the glamour and glitz of a room full of gold encrusted décor, and marble everywhere. Guess who is paying for it. The gambler of course, with very minor exceptions they always lose against the house.

  13. GoodIdea BadIdea says:

    Oh – and apparently Bermuda has had gambling all along. Between horse betting and the betting that used to be at the Bermudiana back in the day, it’s always been here. (not to mention Crown and Anchor at cup match).

  14. Tony Brannon says:

    The POLITICIANS of BERMUDA are abdicating “THEIR” responsibility to “Come Together”, and with support in both political parties, RESORT GAMING legislation could be voted on favorably thereby allowing existing hotels and new developers to have a much needed added attraction and revenue source. The fact that Cannonier and Bean cannot “Come Together” and “MAKE THIS HAPPEN” shows a total lack of leadership, vision and political GUTS. To FOB THIS OFF on a referendum is pure political cowardice on both their parts. The SHIPS already keep 95% of their passengers onboard at night……THEY SIMPLY DO NOT GET OFF AT NIGHT…..
    IT IS THE LOCAL HOTELS that need a life line…..it is our ON ISLAND visitors that need excitement….
    When will we, as a country, step up and do what’s right for tourism ?
    We live in the 21st century YET manage this country in a snail paced, visionless manner.
    IF the politicians are INCAPABLE of MAKING IT HAPPEN – allow private enterprise the right to offer what our guests want.

  15. Sorry Sir says:

    You know why things don’t ever get done in this country???

    Because politicians have too much fun just talking about it.
    Gain favor by constantly saying they’re in favor of something the majority feels should be. Month after month, just saying it over and over but never really getting down to it.

    It’s like bringing out Benny in euchre:
    Public favor for you, as a politician, goes down, time to bring out Benny and talk about things like gaming and decriminalization of Marijuana.

    It’s a sure way to distract and detract from other issues and garner favor all at the same time.

    A win-win for a politician, but a loss for the common man.

  16. Walter says:

    The bermuda an government had better take notice, their are approximately 40 less cruise ship docking s this year than last year. And in 2012 the percentage of docking s dropped considerably than too. Allowing the ships to open them from 10 pm to 5am will not affect local commerce and will generate increased allocations to bermuda through fees, for this allowance. This would also generate future increases in cruise traffic rather than decreases, someone had better wake up in there, the numbers are decreasing.