Chamber Not In Favour Of Gambling Referendum

August 8, 2013

The Chamber of Commerce said they support some form of gaming in Bermuda but is not in favour of a referendum on the subject because of concerns of the uncertainty around what gaming would look like in Bermuda and how questions may be phrased in a referendum.

Bermuda Chamber of Commerce President Ronnie Viera said,“The Chamber has been on record for some time as supporting some form of gaming in Bermuda and our position has not changed, although we all admit the devil is in the detail.

“I am not sure anyone knows exactly what it should look like and there are more questions right now than there are answers.”

The uncertainty around what Gaming would look like in Bermuda and how the question, or questions may be phrased are two of the main reasons the Chamber’s Executive is not in favour of a referendum on the subject.

Mr. Viera noting; “The way questions are worded in a referendum is critical and can often predetermine the outcome. The Chamber is also concerned about how Government plans on educating the general public in advance of a referendum so that we can all make an informed decision.

“In the opinion of the Chamber, cost is another very important reason to forgo a referendum, as a considerable sum would have to be spent on a campaign to provide information to the public and prepare for a referendum.

“Additionally, more valuable time and resources would have to be deployed to run the actual election, disrupting commerce island-wide. It will not be an inexpensive process and we contend that the money can be much better spent, or saved.”

In closing Mr. Viera said it is generally agreed that gaming is “not the panacea or the silver bullet for Bermuda, but if it is one more amenity that may attract would-be investors or potential new visitors, we need to simply stop talking about it and get on with it.”

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Comments (44)

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  1. J Starling says:

    The exact questions of the referendum can be worked out through consensus (or as close to it as possible) discussion with the various stakeholders – heck convene a bipartisan parliamentary committee in a pinch.

    And the usual way one goes about ‘educating the general public’ for something like this would be via a green paper and a series of stakeholder meetings including a series of town-hall style meetings.

    Yes, there is a cost to democracy and election promises. And there is a cost to breaking election promises and allowing policy to be hijacked by special interest groups.

    I’m really getting the impression that there is a concerted low-intensity campaign from pro-gambling folk, perhaps even an organised lobby, to first phrase the discourse in a way to soften up the people to support gambling (even by threat – we either allow it or tourism fails) and, second, to implement it by fiat. A fait accompli.

    • Mazumbo says:

      No surprise UBP where against it years ago!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Mike Hind says:

        I know, right?

        Thank goodness that party doesn’t exist any more!

        • Mazumbo says:

          Yes it does just a different label. LMAO

          • Lebron says:

            Boring political points made Mazumbo, what we expect from you, it isn’t all about OBA vs PLP you know, and it certainly doesn’t call for a highly unnecessary LMAO.

            Sounds like the chamber has no idea, is this enough clarity to issue a statement? Clarity comes with the people deciding. For Christs sake, get on with it

    • We have laws says:

      Read the referendum law. It lays our everything. I doubt the chamber even bothered to read it. They are likely looking to get theirs like the OBA leadership.

    • jt says:

      The special interest groups to be concerned about are the churches.

      • Juan Mata says:

        Couldn’t agree more. And why do they have such a voice anyway? So few people go to church anyway.

  2. Robert says:

    Just do it OBA, they’ll get over it after a while.

    • J Starling says:

      Ah, yes, ‘This too shall pass’…

      Wait, who said that? ;-)

      • margeI says:

        we all know who said this to shall pass, and now he is a newbie on biaw, and he is still on about race, makes one wonder what his agend is now.

    • margeI says:

      OBA, YOU SAID TIME FOR A CHANGE !!!!!!!!!!Well you lot are in charge so like Robert said just do it….get the casino’s up and running and to hell with the nay sayers !!!!!!Bermuda needs to offer our visitors what other Islands are offering .
      Doctor Brown once said” Bermudians are so layed back” and we are.
      OBA please do what you were elected to do…. I wish Tony Brannon was the Premier of Bermuda he has the balls that some of you elected officials lack.

      • J Starling says:

        Except they were elected to hold a referendum on gambling.

        If their election platform and pre-election comments had been ‘once we’re elected we’ll introduce gambling and casinos’ then you would have a point.

        However, seeing as all their pre-election comments, and their explicit promise in their platform said they would hold a referendum, one would expect them to, I don’t know, hold a referendum on gambling and casinos…

        And why do we need to be a clone of other islands? Why would someone want to visit a McCaribbean island, what’s the attraction in that? Why can’t we push the fact that we’re not like other islands, milk that niche?

        • Don't make me laugh says:

          “Why can’t we push the fact that we’re not like other islands, milk that niche?”

          We’ve tried, still trying “…so much more.” Didn’t work, still not working.

  3. Terry says:

    One only has to look at the makeup of the Chamber.

    • Stumped says:

      Yep I agree the Chamber wants to be in charge and run things so selfish. If OBA Said they would have a referendum then have it

  4. Kraken says:

    It is a government decision, people have zero say, if they did not want this current party to make these decisions then they should have voted someone else in.

    referendums are a cop out, gives a party a chance to absolve themselves of making a decision. This is the biggest problem with Bermuda for the last 15 years, coward politicians that can not make a decision and stand by it, is why we have 8 year bus schedule debates, zero activity in tourism but plan after plan after plan to make a plan. Proper human rights amendments that occur 5 years behind every other civilized country.

    The world is instant impact, decisions need to be made swiftly and enacted swiftly, professional analysis is real time. But Bermuda will continue to debate and stall and wait and see until it really can be considered a Caribbean country (and to clarify, yes that is an insult to the Caribbean).

    • We have laws says:

      So why did the OBA promise a referendum in their election platform. People voted for them on that basis. People expect them to keep their word.

  5. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    Just get the casinos here and lets have some work generated..
    builders for a start.

    • Billy Corgan says:

      Personally, I would like to see strip clubs too. Harmless fun. Lighten up Bermuda, and all you god squad.

  6. lookin' further says:

    Interesting push here from Chamber of Commerce.
    One would think sailing a bit close to home with Executive Director of the Chamber, Joanne McPhee, now a member of the Tourism Board.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      And why should a senior member of the Chamber executive not be part of the Tourism Board. Next you will be saying that a labour representative has no business being part of the Tourism Board.

      • ABM says:

        Think they are saying that because if the shoe was on the other foot, then you would have a problem with it.

  7. SoMuchMore says:

    this has been discussed over and over and over and over and over like a broken record.

    just get it done, thank you.

  8. Whistling Frog says:

    You want tourist to flock here, just legalize the herb. That alone would make tenfold more than gambling… Tax that OBA. You educated folk don’t have a clue of what’s in the soil.

    • We have laws says:


    • Tommy Chong says:

      This is true. The casinos in Netherlands don’t even compare to the amount of euros made from the cannabis cafés. Another thing is that legalization of gambling has potential to create more crime whereas abolition of prohibition will reduce crime.

      • Come Correct says:

        Yup but the only problem is if you legalize and tax it that money goes to the government, not one or a group of individuals that are making the killing off it now. Why else would it still be illegal?

        • Tommy Chong says:

          I see your point but it’s not just that group of individuals who profits from prohibition. Customs gets paid to detect, BPS gets paid to make arrests, lawyers get paid to represent or prosecute, courts get paid fines & westgate gets paid to hold prisoners all linked to prohibition. Then there are all the goods bought in Bermuda by those individuals with their wads of elastic band wrapped bills. These may be other reason why prohibition remains.

          Maybe if more people knew how much of the cannabis café owners in Netherlands also own souvenir shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, museums & hotels all purchased through profits made in their cafés. Maybe they would realize how much more would be made through the abolishment of prohibition while at the same time creating jobs, ousting a big portion of the criminal element & reducing the teen drug use & the amount of addiction in our society.

          • Don't make me laugh says:

            LOL !!! I can just HEAR the churches on that one!!!

            • Tommy Chong says:

              Most likely you are right but it will just prove how out of touch churches are with their good book. No where in the Bible is their commandments against cannabis & there’s no way to argue it’s against natures as churches do with other taboo topic. In fact the first book in the Bible says, “God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed for you to use.” Then there’s the historians & archaeologist who have discovered that cannabis was widely used by the Israelites for food, incense, clothing, rope, fishing nets & anointing oil. Beside why should any religion have a say on a society that is not governed by any church?

    • E$ says:


  9. James Tucker says:

    First off, Starling’s on the money. The OBA ran on the promise to hold a referendum – so what’s the big deal? just get on with it.
    Secondly to the Chamber’s concern about the outcome of the vote based upon the question of the question and what gambling would “look like.”
    hello?? that’s what the OBA needs to articulate to the people – what is the vision? To Starling’s point, that is what a green paper should clear up.
    So no, i’m sorry I do not support the stance that we should allow gambling first and THEN we’ll figure out what it should look like – that’s not bold leadership – that’s reckless. If the OBA were to really lead on this issue they would clearly articulate what their vision is.

  10. OZ says:

    The Chamber IS NOT AN ELECTED body so who cares what they think. Clearly they do not care what the people think. They as business people are only concerned with their own interest and I find it interesting that now they think that an elected government should just do as they think without consulting the people when it is exactly that type of attitude that helped to get us in the difficulties we are presently experiencing.

  11. Kim Smith says:

    For some reason we are addicted to the quick fix. Government members have made many, many mistakes… as we are all aware and of which we regularly complain. Any decision to allow the operations of casinos in Bermuda needs to be thought through… or we’ll find the tail wagging the dog once again.

    It seems that the only position paper produced so far (save for the old Green Paper) has been done by BEST. I urge you to read the related documents which are now on their website

  12. Thomas Mahoney says:

    The OBA said a referendum on gaming was definate. Wasn’t that one of their election promises? Didn’t they kick and scream when the PLP warned us that they would just pass it themselves, going so close as to calling that a lie??

    If its about the money (which its not), well then they should have thought of that earlier. Put more than just gaming on the referendum. Put decriminalisation of cannabis on it.

    After the term limits issue, If no referendum is held how can we believe anything they have to say?

    Would you trust someone who says one thing and does another?

  13. Legal Eagle says:

    Obviously the Chamber of C represents ‘Business’–however it is Businesses that provide the JOBS +v Govt(Tax)INCOME that the ‘PEOPLE’ of BDA so badly NEED!! So it is a a matter of ‘Mutual’interest to BOTH Business AND(not’Or) the People! Almost every country in the world has some form of gambling!lottery+has not fallen into despair–n/w/s the Chuch view–which could be satisfied anyway if residents were prohibited as some places have done!! It’s about time BDA climbed out of the ‘dark ages’ on many prohibitions–gambling/lottery only being one! It’s such a ‘no brainer’ that even the Opposition supports it–but unfortunately the OBA promised a Referendum so is (unfortunately) now constrained to abide by that promise–but GET ON WITH IT-ASAP!

  14. Legal Eagle says:

    Too add–’IF’it’s legalised +’IF’ locals are permitted to gamble— in no alcohol establishments etc–gambling must be STATE run+operated-like Ontario! The previous group of PRIVATE ‘slots’ owners in Bars grossly enriched themselves AND gouged players by setting the machines ‘payoff levels’ so LOW, they would be unlawful in most regulated places+ was basic banditery!-not gaming!!!!

  15. Legal Eagle says:

    And why not use whatever portion of gaming proceeds Govt received for a ‘dedicated’ public good–such as the otherwise Unsustainable costs of healthcare! Reduce or eliminate the costs of HIP for the unemployed a/o FCare for our Seniors whe are currently choosing between healthcare costs–and food!!