The petition calling for a referendum on casino gambling will remain open for another week before it closes and a final number is released.
During the run up to the 2012 General Election, the One Bermuda Alliance pledged to hold a referendum on casino gambling in Bermuda, and in November 2013, the Government tabled the Referendum Act 2013.
However, in December 2013 Premier Cannonier announced that instead of holding a referendum on gambling, the matter will be decided by a vote in Parliament.
Earlier this year a group — consisting of including former Independent political candidate Jonathan Starling, former UBP Leader Kim Swan, BEST Chairman Stuart Hayward and Michael Ashton — announced a petition drive calling for a referendum to be held.
Mr. Starling said, “I realise that many have been asking for an update on the petition for a referendum on casino gambling.
“We are nearing the completion of the task of reviewing the petition signatures that we have collected to date – I myself have had to return to Scotland to continue my research responsibilities, and so I want to particularly commend those who have carried the ball in my absence.
“Our team is going over the collected petition signatures and comparing them with the Parliamentary Registrar, painstakingly removing duplicates, names not appearing on the registrar and signatures that are not legible.
“This is a mammoth task, and I cannot commend those working on this, or who have contributed otherwise, for their diligence and commitment.
“While we respect all residents of Bermuda, we felt that it was only responsible that this petition should only include voters – seeing as only voters would be eligible to participate in any referendum.
“We still have to round up some additional petition sheets with collected signatures still out in the community.
We are in the process of ensuring that all petition signatures are fully accounted for and included in the final submission.
We will allow another week and provide the voting public a last opportunity to sign the petition.
“Once we’ve collected the outstanding sheets and finished this last push, we’ll be in a position to release a figure for the completed valid signatures.
“In the meantime, our online petition site remains open [website link].
“I would like to thank all of those who have helped in this mammoth undertaking. This has been an exercise in democracy for all involved and we have all learned much from this experience.
The press conference held in January 2014 announcing the petition drive:
Mr. Starling added, “It is important to stress once again that this petition is neither for nor against casino gambling, only for a referendum on the issue of casino gambling, as was promised by both Parties in the 2012 election and by the Government until December 2013.
“A referendum provides the best way to provide an informed decision on this issue, as well as settling it, one way or another, providing clarity to residents and investors alike.
“To promise a referendum and then to revoke that promise at the eleventh hour, and after revelations of public monies being spent on developing a strategy to engineer dropping a key election promise, it threatens to make a mockery of our democracy and set a dangerous precedent for the future.
“We hope that this petition contributes to ‘doing the right thing’ and giving the people a say on this issue.”