MPs Pass Bill Allowing Ship Casinos To Open

October 2, 2013

gambling gaming generic[Updated: The Bill passed] Members of Parliament are set to decide whether cruise ships should be allowed to open their ships in port, with the debate presently ongoing in the House of Assembly today [Oct 2].

Last month, the Bill [PDF] was tabled to allow cruise ship passengers to gamble at the casinos on board cruise ships while they are docked in Bermuda.

The legislation would allow casinos to be open from 9pm and 5am while in port, and would only allow passengers to gamble.

Minister of Tourism Development and Transport Shawn Crockwell presented [PDF] the second reading of the Cruise Ship (Casino) Act 2013, which is being followed by a debate.

Lawrence Scott [PLP] said it is an exercise in “oxymoronism” — a word he said he created as he could not find a word to describe the OBA administration — as it is discriminatory as locals do not own cruise ships.

Kenny Bascome [OBA], the former Mayor of St George’s, said allowing cruise ships to have gaming while in port will be an enhancement to Bermuda.

Terry Lister [IND] said the cruise ship business is growing all the time, with the larger ships dominating the market, and we need to protect what we have. He said the cruise ship industry has many options, and we need to be competitive. He also said he does not want to encourage people to keep talking about the small cruise ship for St George’s as “it does not exist”.

Glenn Blakeney [PLP] said he supports it, and said that when former Premier Dr Ewart Brown brought a similar bill it was not supported. He also suggested some form of reciprocal agreement, that if we let the cruise ships open their casinos, we could ask for more utilization of our local entertainers.

Kim Wilson [PLP] said the Bill from 2009 was “strikingly similar” to this one, and said that the present Attorney General said it was “unconstitutional” at that time. Ms Wilson said that back in 2009, Mark Pettingill said that it would allow people to gamble on the ocean but not on land which affords different treatment to different people.

Mark Pettingill [OBA] said a “lawyer presents his case” and said he will take it as a compliment for anyone to say that the then-Government, which had a strong majority, was unable to pass their own bill due to his words. He said it is a good bill and will help the economy.

Zane DeSilva [PLP] said he supported the Bill then and he supports it now, but we “should not forget” what happened in 2009. He referenced Mr Pettingill saying it will stimulate the economy, and said that is what they were trying to do with the Bill in 2009 and said it is unfortunate this move was not made four years ago.  He also said the OBA promised the voters a referendum on gaming, and asked why “is it taking so long.”

Dennis Lister [PLP] said he was opposed to the matter in 2009, even though his Government brought the Bill, as he “stands on principle.” The Sandys North Central MP said he remains opposed to the Bill, and said that passengers will spend at the casino rather than in Bermuda. He said he has had the same view for four years, and said some members on the other side seem to have “flip flopped” on the matter, and said the MPs should explain why they have changed perspective.

Derrick Burgess [PLP] said if we want to stay in the cruise ship business and be competitive, “gaming must come.” He said he supported the Bill then, and supports it now. “We have been too restrictive,” said Mr Burgess. “Let’s relax a little bit.” He did mention some concerns, saying 9pm [the hour when casinos would be open] is a bit too early, and suggested 10pm. He also expressed disagreement with allowing ships under a certain size to have a free licence, saying all ships should pay.

Walter Roban [PLP] said things are becoming more competitive, and said we need to change the way we do things. He said the “reality” is we have legal gaming in Bermuda already. He also spoke about getting benefits from the cruise lines as part of the package of allowing them to open their casinos in port. He said right now, as drafted, the Bill does not bring a benefit to Bermuda other than the fee being paid.

Update 3.44pm: Michael Weeks [PLP] said he supported the Bill in 2009, and supports it now.

Lovitta Foggo [PLP] said it was a conscience vote on the then-Government’s side in 2009, and said it is “surprising” that some members who opposed the past Bill are now supporting it.

David Burt [PLP] referenced the 2009 Bill, and said “not a single person on the other side” has explained why they changed their mind. He also referenced Mr Pettingill saying it was “unconstitutional” in 2009, and asked was he “wrong then or now”. Mr Burt said he ‘reluctantly’ supports the Bill.

Update 4.10pm: Marc Bean [PLP] said he has noticed a “lack of contribution” from the Government benches, saying not many Government MPs have given their views on this Bill. He said this bill could be framed as “Dr Brown’s Bill 2.0”, and said he supports the Bill. The Opposition Leader said he appreciates the fact the cruise ships come here, noted they have to overnight, and said we need to do what we can to maintain the relationship. He also said we need to “free up all across the board”, and said if we had a casino on land it would attract the cruise ship passengers. He also said maybe the planned 9pm opening time could be tweaked, and also spoke about the island getting something in exchange.

Update 4.29pm: Shawn Crockwell [OBA] said it is important to make a distinction between the 2009 Bill and the one today. He said they have spoken already with the cruise lines about a reciprocal agreements. He spoke about the Bill in 2009, and said they felt they did not have sufficient information. He said the question has been asked “was politics involved” and said “we all know what politics is about” and went on to say that senior PLP members told him privately getting rid of term limits was the right thing to do.

The Tourism Minister said statistics show only 30% of cruise ship passengers use the casino, which means 70% are “available to be lured off to various amenities we have to offer.” He said the “reality” is 90% of the cruise ship passengers go back on the ship by 9pm now, and “we can’t even entice them to stay onshore now.” He said he agreed with former Premier Dr Brown, who said local businesses can’t expect the Government alone to fill their establishments, they need to “up their game.”

Update: The Bill passed.

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  1. somuchless says:

    Just vote yes in favor of the opening the casinos onboard otherwise the cruise lines that visit weekly might consider shifting and sailing to other ports. Remember we’ve heard from the CEO at Norwegian cruise line on this matter serval times.

    We’ve seen it happen already with Holland America and the Veendam so let’s not make the same mistake again.

    Letting the casinos open at night might even tempt Hollsnd America to return.

    • Come Correct says:

      This is where I agree, if the cruise lines decide Bermuda isn’t worth the visit then we have even less tourists coming here and if the referendum passes, less tourist for the casinos that may be established. The thing is though, if the referendum does go through then now we are in direct competition with the cruise lines and once again will have to rely on air arrivals to make up these numbers. Maybe not a big issue since I would imagine the majority of casinos will be in the hotels but I still think the referendum should have been done first before considering this and the oba has had ample time to do so. It just seems like once again our priorities are out of order but I do commend the oba for doing what is needed with what is at hand at the moment. People have said it before, 90% of cruise passengers don’t come off the ship at night anyway so we need to figure out a way to make them want to come off the ship, I don’t believe a casino is the answer to that.

      • frank says:

        what is it that you don’t understand ship casino’s are one of the ways cruise lines make their money the on shore casino will also help are tourism product and help to bring in developers
        no on is going build a hotel if they can’t have a casino simple

        • Come Correct says:

          (W)hat is it that you don’t understand(? S)hip casino’s are one of the ways cruise lines make their money(. T)he on shore casino will also help (our) tourism product and help to bring in developers,
          no on(e) is going build a hotel if they can’t have a casino(,) simple(.)

          Well firstly I understand that casinos are one of the ways cruise lines make money because of the first few lines I typed. “if the cruise lines decide Bermuda isn’t worth the visit”. So with the last bit of your comment don’t you think the priority should be on the referendum so that if it passes we can get on with these developments as soon as possible? You know, since we’re trying to look out for Bermudians.

          In case you missed it, everything in brackets are corrections to your comment, not just a pair of boobies on either side of simple. Don’t ask me what I don’t understand if it’s evident what you don’t.

  2. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    Let the Cruise Ships have the Casinos open!

  3. Always Watching says:

    Sounds good to me..also just legalise gambling period and bring this little rock of ours into the future.

  4. Triangle Drifter says:

    This should not take long. Dot the i’s. Cross the t’s. Pass it & be done with it.

    Let the hypo hypocrites with their bingo & raffles squack all they want. Enough talk has been done on gaming. Bermuda is years late in dealing with it & permitting it.

  5. smith says:

    loosely calculated the 5 regular callers to Dockyard will bring in $435,000.00 per year in casino license fees. This doesn’t include any 1 off overnights by transcient relocation cruises or ships.

  6. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    Bermuda NEEDS the Cruise Ships

    the Cruise Ships do NOT need Bermuda.

  7. haha says:

    Lawrence Scott said: “as it is discriminatory as locals do not own cruise ships.”

    Hahahahah go lay down already ya soft bra!

  8. Hmmmmm says:

    The OBA is so funny. Is there one thing they have done that Ewart didn’t try to do? This is Ewart’s second term with a friendly face.just hilarious.

    • Come Correct says:

      Yea….bring an island to it’s knees. Funny that’s one thing he succeeded at.

  9. terry says:

    So (as they say in Bermudian) vat you lutt gonna do frum Nowambarh tooho Haapril.

    No sheeps.
    I’ll bet two on 14………………..

    • Nuffin but da Truth says:

      as usual…NOTHING CONSTRUCTIVE FROM YOU!

      • terry says:

        So what you gonna do from November to April.
        Your an a**.

  10. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    “Bermuda is a HOME”….”NOT a casino”.

  11. Gambler says:

    The OBA are beginning to look like wusses.Just allow casinos in new hotel development with lots of rooms.If you allow ships to have gaming in port,we will look like fools if it is not allowed onshore.
    Make a decision Mr.Cannonier before you become the Premier who cannot make up his mind.In other words,a non leader.

  12. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    This bill “I personally will never pass”.

    • Come Correct says:

      @Gambler, I’m inclined to agree.

      @JUSTIN FRANK, I’m a little undecided, it could be good for our tourism product, like seasoning is to food, its not what makes it, its just an addition. It could also have detrimental effects on our society. The cons could very well outweigh the pros. People could lose their homes or life savings just for the rush of chance. Gambling has been known to be just as addicting as drugs.

  13. princess says:

    Gambling is already being done on the island. I say allow gambling on island only and not on cruiseship, combine it with entertainement at hotels and bars this will bring visitors off the cruiseship off the ships and spend money on the island.

    • Come Correct says:

      These were my exact thoughts, but at the same time and I’m not disagreeing with you, you have to understand that we have to in a sense give the cruise lines a reason to come here. If we don’t give them this, which is what they have asked for, what stops them from pulling out like others have and where will that leave us? What I do believe is that with your suggestion of entertainment and such at hotels and bars, that is solely what will give us the edge over the cruise line casinos. The thing is we have to be unique, no American tourist wants to come here and see an American style performance, they are here to see Bermuda. like Mike Hind has said, we dont need to lower our prices, we need to bring our product up to standard with the pricing. If we lower our prices, say goodbye to the standard of living we have all grown to know.

  14. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    @come correct. “Is Bermuda your Home”?

    • Come Correct says:

      Yes it is, I couldn’t picture myself living anywhere else. If I had to i guess I could, but why would I want to leave paradise that so many envy across the globe? I could live somewhere else but Bermuda will always be my home.

  15. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    If we as an island join ‘casino’ gambling then we as islanders fall weak within ourselves. “Who benefits from a casino”? “How will allowing cruise ships to open casinos while at port (9pm-5am) help our country”? “Don’t allow it”.

    • Mike Hind says:

      1. All of us. Gaming forces us to improve our product, something we desperately need. We also know that, with it on the horizon, we aren’t going to get any hotel investment until we have gaming. It’s not a matter of “IF” any more, it’s a matter of “WHEN”.

      2. It won’t in any way other than the money from fees, which, in the grand scheme and compared to what we’d lose, is not enough to warrant it as an idea.
      Sadly, there may be some pressure from the lines to force the issue, with them possibly saying “We won’t come here any more if you don’t let us open our casinos”. To that, I’d have to say “Take a look at how much money you guys are bringing to our country and, if it’s less than we need, per person, then the response needs to be: “And…?”

      3. Exactly. Don’t allow it.

  16. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    @ come correct. You said, ‘if you had to guess, you could’. Why did you choose the word ‘guess’?

    • Come Correct says:

      sorry it should have been – If I had to, I guess I could, – meaning you have to adapt in order to survive. For example, if the plp were re-elected and the spiral of deceit and the rest continued, I would probably be inclined to move my family somewhere else, but I would be reluctant to do so. Clearly not because of the economy because I can only go to England or Europe legally, but we have very limited resources here.

  17. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    “What do we ask of from the cruise lines”?

  18. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    “Bermuda, OUR Island, OUR Home”. “This bill (praise the almighty) didn’t pass in 2010, and it should never be passed”.

  19. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    @ come correct. What do you mean, ‘You HAVE to adapt in order to survive’.

    • Come Correct says:

      You’re serious? Are you getting to a point?

  20. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    Just put words in quotation marks.

  21. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    Does someone already own those words?

  22. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    Point is, “Trash this Bill”.

  23. somuchless says:

    Justin I don’t get your point to any of your comments. Weirdo

    • Come Correct says:

      Me either, he hasn’t given a reason or said why he feels this way. Bermuda is our home isn’t a reason. The question we need to ask is do we want cruise lines to bring tourists to our home. If no then scrap the bill, if yes then we do in a way have to work with the cruise lines to make our home worth the visit. Cruise lines. do what they do for a profit and if the casino is part of their revenue stream and they don’t feel they are making enough revenue visiting here they can easily pull out like others have and this discussion is basically pointless. Like Mike said though, if its going to cost us more than its worth then what’s the point. My only real issue is that I think the referendum should have been a much higher priority than this bill but its a bit late now.