BEST: Neutral Wording For Gaming Referendum

December 4, 2013

[Updated] The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce [BEST] said they “would prefer a more neutral wording for the referendum question on gambling.”

The recent Bill [PDF] tabled in the House of Assembly said the question put to the public will be “Do you favour the introduction of regulated casino gaming for the purposes of creating new jobs for Bermudians and encouraging hotel development.”

BEST said they “feel that the government may be making trouble for itself with the wording for the referendum on gambling,” and also asked “how secure in its position is the government if it has to load up the question in favour of a yes answer?”

They went on to suggest that “perhaps the most neutral wording would be something like: ‘Should gambling be legalised in Bermuda?”

The question was also billed as “loaded” by members of the Opposition, with one PLP MP noting that the Gaming Referendum Bill [PDF] the PLP introduced last year used this phrasing: “Should there be licensed casino gaming in Bermuda?”.

Last week Bernews ran a [completely unscientific] online poll with the question “Do you favour the introduction of regulated casino gaming?”. 79% [462 votes] said yes, and 21% [121 votes] said no.

Update 2.09pm: When asked about the criticism of the question, a Transport Ministry spokesperson said: “The Government stands by the question as drafted.”

Update 3.10pm: Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell said, “The question contained in the Referendum Act 2013 is reflective of what the Government believes will be the primary benefits to a well regulated gaming industry in Bermuda. The decision for the electorate is about jobs and economic stimulus which is gravely needed in Bermuda and that is what is reflected in the question.”

The full statement from BEST is below:

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce [BEST] would prefer a more neutral wording for the referendum question on gambling.

We feel that the government may be making trouble for itself with the wording for the referendum on gambling.

While the proposed referendum wording does achieve a technical goal of being just one question, that one question contains several parts that make a simple “yes” or “no” answer problematic. What if a person wishes to answer ‘yes’ to one part of the question and ‘no’ on another?

The question being put to the voting public is, “Do you favour the introduction of regulated casino gaming for the purposes of creating new jobs for Bermudians and encouraging hotel development?”

How does one answer that question if a) one supports UN-regulated casino gaming, or b) supports it for purposes other than new jobs or hotel development? Or if one supports regulations, jobs and hotels but is opposed to casinos?

And the framing of the question begs a further question: How secure in its position is the government if it has to load up the question in favour of a yes answer?

There are other issues that are not answered by the referendum but that the community still should have input into:

  • - How many casinos will be allowed?
  • - Are those casinos designated for new hotel development or for existing hotels?
  • - And who will choose which hotel(s) get a casino, based on what criteria?
  • - Who can gamble in the casino/s? Anyone or is it just for visitors?
  • - Who will be allowed to apply for a license?
  • - What are the proposed fees for a license – who benefits and how?
  • - Knowing in advance the social effects that will attend casino gambling, do we set-up social services in anticipation of these effects or wait for them to occur?
  • - What education will be provided to young people in our community to teach them about gambling?
  • - Assuming we will need a monitoring/oversight body, what form will it take?
  • - Will we need to beef up our corruption legislation?

It is likely that responses to the referendum question will be influenced by the status of these issues

The public should also have a clear understanding of what will happen next if there is a “Yes” or a “No” outcome. Is the issue dead, for example, if the majority public response to the referendum question is “no”?

From our reading on referenda being conducted elsewhere, perhaps the most neutral wording would be something like: “Should gambling be legalised in Bermuda?”

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Comments (65)

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  1. CBA says:

    What does gaming have to do with these guys? Aren’t they an environmental group?

    • Um Um Like says:

      Do you favour the introduction of regulated casino gaming for the purpose of sustaining our environment?

    • watching says:

      Environment isn’t just the physical landscape. It is the entire atmosphere of a place. Social, financial, climate, etc.

  2. watching says:

    I dont usually agree much with BEST but i do agree with most of what is above. The government needs to amend the referendum legislation and reword the question as to not lean towards a particular result.

    Minister Crockwell, please do not let pride get in the way. Consult your technical officers and allow them to reword it and get the referendum underway!

  3. Hmmmmm says:

    Ah BEST, oh how gentle you have become since December last….with the PLP you used to “demand”; now you just “prefer”. So transparent.

    • Stuart Hayward says:

      We reject your accusation and the innuendo. Perhaps it’s your own bias that is showing through, or are you repeating somebody’s talking points? Either way, bring some proof or give it up.

      • Mike Hind says:

        Never happen. Backing up claims, or asking that someone does, is verboten ’round here. It’s become an object of derision.

  4. Terry says:

    Probably something to do with the rubber trees at Southlands and more emissions from BELCO due to the arrival of so many to view the nesting and feeding habits of the diminishing Bermudian ………

  5. watching says:

    While I do agree with BEST statement, I wonder why Mr. Hayward has not been out front on this. When the PLP was in power, he never hesitated to be out front. Now with this issue, his name is not even mentioned.

  6. San George says:

    Great poll Bernews. I don’t agree with the introduction of slot machines but I do favor Crown and Anchor and Poker.

    Please utilize your poll on important topics more frequently.

    • frank says:

      what casino have you seen that does not have slot mackines

  7. Toodle-oo says:

    As the question is currently worded I will not participate .

    If someone who thinks that all members of the public will be able to participate once gambling is legalized only to find out that it only applies to tourists and visitors in hotels after the fact will be very pissed off.

    If someone has worries about the impact of gambling on the local social structure and votes ‘no’ and then finds out it only applies to ‘guests’ they might regret voting no if they believed it ‘could’ have a positive impact on the economy.

    The referendum needs to make it crystal clear exactly who will be allowed to participate and where .

    OBA , as far as I’m concerned you blew this one .

    • Double Standards says:

      A referendum is always a simple question and never contains details about the decision being posed. Ensuring, via town hall meetings etc., that the public is aware of both the pros and cons of gaming should take place now and right up until the referendum takes place and is the responsibility of the Government.

      The PLP’s question was a simple ‘do you agree with allowing regulated gaming in the island’ (or something to that effect). For this particular referendum I tend to lean towards the PLP’s proposed referendum question.

      But at the same time allowing gaming is an attempt to boost the tourism industry, provide more jobs as well as providing another revenue stream for the Government, so the original question is not that far off the mark (if at all). But knowing how sensitive so many Bermudians are, especially these days, maybe the Government should appease the perpetual objectors and record the question along the lines of the PLP’s suggestion.

      If you want to vote against a proposal, which both sides of the political aisle agree on, that will better our tourism industry, Government finances, provide jobs/careers and by extension assist with the overall economic recovery, which is your choice.

      But at least vote against it because you do not support gaming, the potential social effects and not because you don’t like the way the question is being asked.

      PS: No one will dare to invest in Bermuda’s tourism product unless there is some sort of ‘guarantee’ that they will more than likely see a return on their investment. So without gaming do no expect any new resorts to be constructed and/or enhancements to our tourism product to be achieved. .

      Just think about this the Government had to allow cruise ships to open their casinos in certain hours or else they would cease traveling to Bermuda due to the low profit margins for our route.

      • Bermuda Male says:

        Agree completely!

        Our tourism product has been dying a long slow death for decades now and is currently on life support.

        While gaming might not be the be all or end all for the resuscitation of our so called second pillar it is a start and one that Bermuda must make IMO.

        Our previous allure is gone as well as affordability.

        It will be absolutely insane to go against this proposal as it stands nowadays. A no vote is a no vote to enhancing our tourism product and potential investment from hoteliers etc. Bermuda simply doesn’t have the pull or attractions to bring in the tourists like yesteryear and we have stood round and watched as our competitors overtook us in every aspect.

        But then again Bermuda is Another World.

      • Portia says:

        “No one will dare to invest in Bermuda’s tourism product unless there is some sort of ‘guarantee’ that they will more than likely see a return on their investment. So without gaming do no expect any new resorts to be constructed and/or enhancements to our tourism product to be achieved.”

        So, then what are the Greens doing investing in Hamilton Princess and the former Sonesta Beach? And why are the new owners of Pink Beach investing in that property? There was no guarantee or promise that a casino would be allowed. It seems obvious that gaming and casinos is NOT mandatory to drum up interest in our tourism product.

        • Mike Hind says:

          Two examples are not sufficient to make that point.

          We need more than two investors in our tourism product.

          • Bill Stephens says:

            We need 2 multi million $ investors to step up our game and get others to follow suit – if you build it they will come (or maybe pay attention and put theirs in too).

            Lets not kick the 2 investors to the curb just yet – they are spending $ on bermuda today – wish we had more of them!

            • Mike Hind says:

              Not sure what I said that would leave you thinking I’m kicking anyone to the curb.
              Perhaps it’s time to take a sec, take a breath and read what people are writing. You started strong, but your aggressive defensiveness to people trying to engage you has all but ruined the point you were making.

              What I was trying to say is that two investors does not mean that others will come, with regard to the point of “we don’t need gaming ‘cuz people will invest anyway”.

              I disagree with that. It’s pretty well-established that there will not be he investment in our tourism and hotel industry without gaming. To say otherwise is specious.

  8. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    the wording is all wrong and Crockwell should go back to school and this time LEARN from the Teachers!

  9. National Globalist Party says:

    The OBA seems to have run out of steam after their coronation, there have been no radical changes within our legal frame work on marijuana, worth 100m a year, no movement on Medical tourism, Stem Cells – which is a scientific travesty, IVF, Human Cloning, Medical Marijuana, other industries Bermuda can explore – Offshore Aquaculture, Offshore Oil and gas, Tourism re-branding, ACTIVE IB expansion into China – Middle east – India – Brazil, the OBA have been OBA have been idle, but can you blame them? Those at the top of both the economic and political pyramid will never take radical steps, as their 1st priority is remaining there.
    NGP

    • Terry says:

      What the hell is “100m a year” have to do with it.
      Are you talking illegal or medicinal.

    • Mike Hind says:

      Is this the third or the fourth time you’ve posted this quantifiably incorrect nonsense?

  10. Common Sense says:

    Reading the adverse comments about the wording of this referendum question makes me wonder if those doing the complaining are really aware of the reason why we are considering changing the gambling rules. It is more than likely that if you simply ask the question “Do you support legalized gambling in Bermuda?” the answer might well be no (even though hundreds, if not thousands of Bermnudians travel to Vegas on a regular basis for that very purpose).

    But we are not considering changing the gambling rules to provide we Bermudians with another social activity in our spare time! We are fighting for our very existence in the tourism industry, and those who actually invest in large tourist properties have been telling us for years that if we want to attract more visitors we need to allow casino gambling.

    Whether or not we allow Bermuda residents to gamble in these hotel casinos would be a matter of subsequent debate, but if we want to upgrade our tourist product we need to know first of all if the majority of us are prepared to allow regulated casino gaming for the purposes of creating new jobs for Bermudians and encouraging hotel development just as this referendum question asks.

    We can faff around for ever deciding on the referendum question, but we need to move forward and we need to do it now.

  11. swing voter says:

    Hey BEST your dog ain’t in this fight, let the government get on with passing this into law, heck we need the money.

  12. Triangle Drifter says:

    I fail to see how BEST has any substantial interest in this topic.

    On the question of the question it looks like the job of creating the question to be put on the ballot was given to a civil servant.

    Nothing is ever simple in the civil service so instead of a yay or nay question we get one loaded so that nobody would say no to it. Now the civil servant has done his job. He has made work for himself to justify the job. The question will have to be composed again, after many more meetings of course.

    Should Bermuda permit gaming? Yes/no. Easy.

  13. Blackjack says:

    don’t care about the wording. BEST keep your environmental trap out of it. VOTE YES QUICKLY and lets have a LOTTERY!!!!!!!!!

  14. Bill Stephens says:

    The question is relevant AND valid as it clearly stipulates a YES vote for jobs through gaming and hotel investment through gaming.

    Let’s be real Bermuda! What else do we really have that can create hundreds of much needed jobs and much needed investment in Bermuda’s infrastructure?

    Its time to face facts! No casinos = no jobs + no investment

    Churches and BEST need to stay out of this as they DONT create jobs OR entice investment in Bermuda – they are takers only! Show me a Church that hires hundreds of people and show me how BEST invests in Bermuda’s infrastructure! They dont – so shut up and let the big kids play!

    If you want people to put $ in the collection box then let the EARN a $; i you want people to help preserve Bermuda’s open spaces then let us build what we need in other areas – but we need the $ or we cant build!

    You can argue all you want but lack of $ = lack of opportunity and we need opportunity to revive our Country – unless of course the Churches and BEST have some $ tucked away somewhere like the Vatican?

    Be real you nay-sayers and stop being hypocrites! Provide good advice to us and not opinion as you are takers and not makers.

    Votes YES for JOBS and opportunity to EARN $ Bermuda!

  15. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    I VOTE NO TOWARDS BOTH SIDES – GAMBLING WILL NOT SOLVE BERMUDAS SITUATION WE FIND OURSELVES IN.

  16. Bill Stephens says:

    OK – then what would you suggest will help to solve Bermuda’s problem?

    Do you have the bucks to pay our National Debt down? Do you have what it takes to put hundreds of Bermudians to work?

    It sounds like you have a job – I dont have one and I want one. In fact, I want to open up a valet parking business for casinos and employ bermudians to work with / hustle with me – I need a small business loan to do it but I willing to take a risk and do anything to get me back on level footing!

    So what is your plan? And dont come with this lame Marijuanna legalization and aqua-economic crap – that aint happening in a million years – we need real, solid jobs that Bermudians can turn up and do and that are needed to support this new INDUSTRY! Those who have jobs or dont want to get the hands dirty need to support those of us who do!

    So its time to speak up Yoda – we are all ears – what INDUSTRY are you creating in the next 3 months to get us moving?

    ohhhh – sorry – you dont have anything in the bag do you?

    Like I said before – people who dont believe in Bermuda and Bermudians and who dont have REAL answers need to shut up and let the big kids play!

    We need jobs, jobs, jobs and new businesses – I am willing to take a very big risk here and need the opportunity to bolt on to the gaming INDUSTRY! There is nothing else out there that is new, exciting and that provides an opportunity to us little people – I am a black Bermudian trying to get a nut from the acorn tree and make an honest play at owning my own business – get out of the way – dont constrain us – we have been held down at every turn and opportunity over years!

    Its OUR turn now!
    We need this Bermuda – more than we will ever know!
    It time to take a chance and make this work for US!

    Yes there are losers, but there are also winners – especially where hard work and committment can result in supporting businesses to the gaming INDUSTRY!

    Let’s get to work!

  17. Common Sense says:

    Right on Mr. Stephens. You have so eloquently stated the case for voting yes to the gaming referendum.

  18. Bill Stephens says:

    Here is an idea Bermuda!

    Lets have only those who dont have a job vote for jobs – the rest of you “God-fearing” hipocrites and “sustainability analysts” and “employed white people” who speak about social ills like it is a disease and who have not eaten in or even entered a soup kitchen for at least 3 months cant vote! Why? becasue you have your selfish lives and your selfish posessions!

    i dont know where my next meal comes from but it comes each day because I ask for help and I pray to my God for forgiveness for whtever I have done to put me where I am and I truly believe God is keeping me alive until he can provide an opportunity for me to rise – gaming is that opportunity!

    and i dont see how gaming is evil if we are responsible about who runs things and we have a view into it. People are watching too many movies when they talk about crime and mobs and frankly its these same people who also have a job and the money to afford the electricity that they are using to watch mob shows on TV or Cable – cable? Have not had that for a year now!

    Social ills? Let me tell you something about that as I am an expert on that subject – social ill comes from the reality that some of us cannot pay our bills or pay people off to get high paying jobs! I have a degree but that is not good enough – there needs to be capacity in the various industries we have in bermuda to allow those of us who have skill but no $ to pay others off to get ahead – you know who you all are!

    Nothing has changed – we would rather not doing anything and fear the future instead of embracing change and creating / controlling our future! God is not going to save us unless we can demonstrate our worth to him, respect his children and support the communities we live in! And we cant do that without an earned leg up or an opportunity to prove ourselves to God!

    I am not one blessed of the scripture but i am one of the “Word” which provides for those who help others to rise – so lets get moving and onto brighter and better days ahead!

    My vote is to spend some $ from gaming on soup kitchens – if I come into $ through gaming job i will be giving it back to them as they have saved my life many times over!

    God bless you all – please find a conscience and a heart for those less fortunate than you!

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Now why did you drag race into this? What does race have to do with it? Of the church vote which church do you suppose is most vociferous against gaming? Who makes up the majority in those pews?

      Be careful who you blame for lack of support for gaming. No, it is not the magic pill. Had we taken that pill 15-20 years ago, thats under the UBP watch BTW, we would not be having this conversation now.

      What happened back then? Well the cowardly UBP were afraid of the church vote. Thats the same church vote that they had little chance of voting for them anyway.

      • Bill Stephens says:

        Blah, blah, blah – join Mr. Hayward and keep us back!

        Always about the past and who did what to who – try living in the “today” and without a $ to your name – do that and we will listen to you!

        Politics and Churches and “community activists” – all the same political beasts – they all have jobs and they all can afford to influence the masses!

        God bless you and yours!

  19. Stuart Hayward says:

    BEST has contributed to this debate because gambling will have an impact on the social environment, which is an aspect of the environment included in our mission (see complete mission statement on our website: best.org.bm).

    Our position paper titled “The Gamble of Gaming” examines pros and cons of gambling and is also available on the website. We’re willing to discuss the issues.

    • Bill Stephens says:

      I would love if the $ BEST spent on that 12 page Ad in the paper would have gone to the soup kitchen we go to!!!!!

      We could have had turkey instead of spam for dinner!

      You people make me sick to my empty stomach!

      • Stuart Hayward says:

        Bill Stephens, you must have us mixed up with somebody else. We have never even conceived of a 12 page Ad, much less paid for one. Please stick to the truth.

        • Bill Stephens says:

          OK – maybe it was 6 pages – had to use it to stay warm on the streets so maybe I read it twice? BTW – what did that Ad cost?

          Just curious…

    • Bill Stephens says:

      “Position Paper”?

      Here is a “position” for you to consider and I dont need a 12 page Ad in the paper to communicate it to you – why dont you quit your worthless “job” today and agree to donate every $ you have to charity and then spend 1 week on the streets with us sleeping in the cold or on the couch of a kind friend whenever their girlfriend is out of town

      Once you do that then we can listen to you and your “friends against US Bermudians”!

  20. Just Wondering says:

    can i get my $10 buy-in poker back? It was nice night out and good crowd, I miss it a lot.

  21. Bill Stephens says:

    You are so full of it Stuart Hayward! You have a job and you get $ from people who follow you blindly!

    Tell me the last time you had to BEG people on the street for $5 to get a coffee and a muffin – by the way thats dinner to many of us you hipocrite!

    Stay off the line on this – you have not earned the right to decide my furture – you have your job – get out of my path to mine!

    Or is BEST hiring people? If so I would like a nice position in the organization where I can spend time putting the word out on how to hurt Bermudians!

    Time for you to go away and let the real people talk!

    • Mike Hind says:

      While I agree with you on some of your points, the belligerence and outright demand that someone – a fellow citizen – shouldn’t have a voice is completely out of line.

      Rise above.

      • Bill Stephens says:

        Do you have a job?
        Did you eat today?
        Have you seen your kids / loved ones lately?
        Had a hot shower?
        Used a clean rest room – ours on front street is always dirty!

        No need to answer – we know you do…

        • Fish Nuggets says:

          Get a Job Ya Bum.

          • Bill Stephens says:

            Bum?

            I put 4 grandchildren through school and 2 kids and worked for BELCO until I had to retire! So who are you to call me a bum? You probaby have not worked for 40 years like me to then be un-employed and no money left after prescriptions to afford food or a home!

            Bum?

            Would love to meet you face to face and put some respect into you young person – only a young, disrespectful individual would dare to call their Seniors bums! We came before you and everything you have we laid down sacrifice for you – show some respect – you discredit and disgrace your parents or whoever brought you up!

            Now its time for you to vote to help us bums and all you can do is call us names and highlight our plight? Maybe there is no future for the rest f us if people like you are existing and thriving – bring on Armagedon – would hope to be on the other side of the gate looking out at you..

            • Triangle Drifter says:

              Sorry but you have a problem that has nothing to do with being hungry or having a job. Hatred & bitterness won’t get you far. Be consoled that you do have company. Maybe Betty will contact you personally.

              • Bill Stephens says:

                Execuse me? I have a problem other than a job or food – how analytical of you!

                A typical comment from someone who has no clue – try giving up your job and selling your home to make ends meet (for a while) and see how far you get and when there are no jobs out there see how you feel when people dismiss you – then you will get how “we” feel about jobs – jobs are not a luxury to people like us – it is a necessity… hope you never fall from your tower of power and have to experience the bottomless pit.

                True desperation changes a man – in more ways than someone like you could ever comprehend.

                Hope is all we have and you have no need of it from your tower…

          • Mike Hind says:

            Not cool, at all. Be better than that.

  22. Bill Stephens says:

    Signing off for now Bermuda – I would like to thank my kind friend for letting me use his laptop and his Internet connection.

    I would also like to thank all of you for your support – many of you may know me or have given me a kind word or a handout.

    Sorry to be so passionate about a job – I just dont have anything else going for me and this is a view shared by a lot of people I talk with or am around – we are DESPARATE – truly DESPERATE for something new and that provides an opportunity for those of us who want / can work!

    I am 60 years old – put my kids through school and got my paper from the College a few years ago – I need a job – pure and simple. There are just no jobs for us 60+ out there – trust me I have begged and begged

    God bless you all! Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day? i continue to pray and hope!

  23. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    Just stop thinking life is a game. How long will gambling last in our country? What is your opinion, is your opinion. If you believe gambling will give you peace, then open your mind and read further….Gambling only leads to more harm.

  24. Common Sense says:

    @Bill Stephens – Although I agree with you 100% about the need to allow casino gambling to attract tourists and to provide employment for folks such as yourself, I have to say that you comments about white folks are completely and totally misguided. Of the dozens and maybe hundreds of white folks I have spoken with about this issue over the years the vast majority have been strongly in support of allowing gambling. On the other hand, the sasme cannot be said of my black friends, the majority of whom are adamently opposed to it on so-called moral grounds, even though several of them travel to Vegas for that very purpose. You need to direct your anger elsewhere on this issue.

  25. Chalky White says:

    The wording is fine the way it is…..Bermuda’s electorate demonstrated that they did not know what was best for Bermuda by voting the PLP in for 14 years so they should have it spelled out for them…vote for gaming and the jobs that go with it in construction and the employment opportunities that a casino offers…..people act like Bermuda has all the time in the world to solve its problems when the reality is we have another year or two to get some initiatives in place to save our future…hanging on by a thread and we still cannot get out of our own way

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Bill S states above that he has a dream to create a valet concierge that would provide a service at the casinos .

      That would mean the parking of LOCAL visitor’s cars when they arrive.
      But he’s assuming that if legalized , locals would be able to participate in gambling.

      The referendum question ,as posed , does not say anything about who the participants allowed will be .
      As I asked earlier , what if all of us who want a flutter tick the yes box and then find out after the fact that we’re not allowed to ?

      The wording is NOT fine just the way it is .

  26. Hooray says:

    The government apparently has no respect for the intellect of their constituents. Nor do they respect the purpose of the poll. It’s a blatant attempt at marketing right inside the voting booth. This inspires confidence in me that this government can be trusted to handle their new toy responsibly when they get their sticky little fingers on it. Honesty and openness are alive and well.

    Hooray.

  27. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    Did you truthfully work for belco for 40 years?

  28. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    Who has profited from Bermudas loss in structure?

  29. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    Point is, a hustle is not a job.

    • Family Man says:

      Init tho.

      A jawb is where you go, you know, and read the paper, chat with your friends, take a long lunch, call in sick …

      A hustle is where you have to work if you want to get paid.

  30. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    One opinion