Government May Consider Gaming Referendum

November 4, 2011

Government will consider putting the controversial issue of gambling to a referendum and let the Bermudian people decide whether casinos should be introduced to help the island’s ailing hospitality industry.

In today’s Throne Speech — outlining the Government’s legislative aims for 2012 — Governor Sir Richard Gozney said Government was considering the idea of a gaming referendum as part of an overall plan to rehabilitate the island’s tourism industry.

“The Department of Tourism, in the short-term, will adopt a set of strategic initiatives to address the industry’s immediate needs while Bermuda’s long-term National Tourism Plan is being developed,” said the Governor. “The initiatives include the launch of a new tourism brand, the start of a programme of corporate games, the reintroduction of College Weeks, a scheme to convert cruise visitors to air visitors.

“A further option is consideration of a referendum on whether Bermuda should allow gaming.”

As recently as August the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance called on Government to hold a gambling plebiscite, with Shadow Tourism Minister Patricia Gordon Pamplin esaying:: “The OBA has already said that the issue of gaming should be put to a referendum preceded by a comprehensive education campaign. This would highlight the pros and cons of the proposal and enable the public to render the most informed decision.”

Ms Gordon-Pamplin was responding to comments made during the summer by then Tourism Minister Patrice Minors, who in a press interview said she was going to push for the introduction of gaming to Bermuda.

“Our question is whether the Minister’s statement reflects the position of the Government of Bermuda?” asked Ms Gordon Pamplin. “The second question relates to how the Minister intends to measure public opinion on the issue. By referendum? She mentioned town hall meetings, but they surely are not the answer.

“One of the core elements of the OBA’s better governance platform is to engage the public more directly in decision-making. One aspect of this objective is the use of referenda to measure public opinion, particularly on controversial issues. If that is the intention of the Government on the gaming issue, then Bermuda needs to hear it.

“On this point, the OBA has already said that the issue of gaming should be put to a referendum preceded by a comprehensive education campaign. This would highlight the pros and cons of the proposal and enable the public to render the most informed decision.

“On a final point, we hope the Minister does not see gaming as a silver bullet — a cure-all for the Bermuda’s tourism industry. While gaming would provide a tourism lift -– certainly in the short-term — we cannot take our eye off the crucial need to provide our visitors with the best, most professional, most welcoming level of service possible. Achieve that and we would not have to contemplate desperate measures,” concluded Ms Pamplin-Gordon.

According to the Green Paper on the subject released last year, gambling would add nearly 3,000 jobs and up to $146 million a year to Bermuda’s economy.

The release of the Green Paper was followed by a debate on gaming in the House of Assembly, with only one-fifth of Parliamentarians speaking in favour of relaxing the anti-gaming laws.

The only MPs to speak in favour were then-Premier Dr Ewart Brown, Zane DeSilva, Walter Lister, Michael Weeks, Mark Pettingill, Shawn Crockwell and Darius Tucker.

Those that spoke against included then-Deputy Premier Paula Cox, Wayne Furbert, Patrice Minors, Elvin James, Alex Scott, Walter Roban, Randy Horton, Dale Butler, Dame Jennifer Smith, Michael Scott, Lovitta Foggo, Ashfield DeVent, Dennis Lister, Kim Swan, John Barritt, Bob Richards, Dr. Grant Gibbons, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Louise Jackson, Charles Swan, Cole Simons, Trevor Moniz, and Donte Hunt.

A number of MPs from both sides of the aisle spoke in favour of a referendum on gaming.

Hoteliers are known to be generally in favour of easing Bermuda’s restrictions on gambling. Tourism activist and former Tourism Board member Tony Brannon has long argued that the introduction of gambling as part of an overall nightlife plan for the hospitality industry would not only create new jobs in hotels, pubs and clubs but also  boost career opportunities for Bermudian musicians.

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  1. Minister: Gaming A ‘Strategic Imperative’ : | November 16, 2011
  1. 5boro says:

    Can they also consider a marijuana referendum? How about prostitution? Pornography?

    I mean, if you’re going to look at one vice, you might as well look at them all. We can just make Bermuda the North Atlantic Vegas.

  2. Hmmm says:

    Come on Bermuda, roll the dice. The tourism industry could use a full house. If it all turns craps, just double down and go for broke.

    • joonya says:

      You clever F@cka!

      Do you really think tourists want to come here, pay $600 a night for a crap room and crap service, then loose a couple grand on craps?
      As usual, Bermuda always comes to the party late and blames it on the broken wrist watch..

      • Jeff says:

        If the guests have decent play history the new Casino Resort would probably offer a free or discounted room rate.

  3. N/A says:

    The majority of Bermudian people for years have favored some form of Gambling legislation. Why are they now acting like we deserve it for good behavior or something??? What’s happened is they are realizing, due to the economy, how much revenue they are missing out on which is being spent on overseas online gambling sites, which would be much better off being spent right here on the island…

    • White Christ says:

      Thats a LIE! The mojority do not want to see gambling legalized here any more than prostitution, drugs and the right to own a gun. Keep this vice away from our community as far as possible, we have enough problems as it is.

  4. will says:

    first we have to sort out the outrageous prices in place for tourists who wish to stay in the hotels! no point in introducing something to the hospitality industry if we have no guests!

    • Family Man says:

      Ohhh ohhh I know how to do that. Since salaries and wages make up >60% of hotels costs, we’ll just slash employees wages and eliminate benefits, then the hotels can afford to charge less. That’ll work for everyone right?

      Here’s a clue – its not the ‘outrageous prices’, its the accompanying poor service. Many hotels in other locations charge far more than Bermuda – London, Zurich, Geneva, Monte Carlo, Abu Dhabi to name a few but in those places when you pay $1,000 a night or more you get excellent service.

  5. Hmmmmm says:

    I’m with Bill Zuill: a wasted year. Paula could’ve had gaming in place now, enjoying the revenues from it, kept Carnival had a hotel being built and still been able to blame Doc. But Ms. Short-sighted comes late to the party yet again.A wasted year.

    • Observer says:

      Don’t wait till we go dead broke then decide to bring gambling here for a fast fix as we are not far from broke so it you are going to bring gaming in, lets do it now. Then we will see all that empty hotel land start being develop, then we will have construction jobs available, and so on you guys. Pay attention, its no joke, the country is going down hill, and we are letting all the other islands after looking up to us are now passing us by, just because we are not paying attention and living like its still 1994. Come on folks, its 2000 and onwards, these are real times we need to change and gaming is one big way to start and get us on the road for recovery, and we can’t wait for ten years, nor 6, we need to act now and fasst!

    • Family Man says:

      Sure, and the BIU can manage it and their accountants can issue the reports.

  6. May consider gambling….Smoke & mirrors actual action….
    Does not mean anything but- “VOTE FOR ME PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  7. Pastor Syl says:

    I note Mrs. Gordon-Pamplin’s original recommendation was for a comprehensive education campaign prior to the referendum so the public could be aware of all the pros and cons – because there are some definite cons to this initiative, which were minimized to the point of lies by the folks that were here for the last “study”. This is not to be wondered at, since they were clearly looking to profit by a decision to allow gaming. One of them was so bold as to make it quite plain that he expected to work here either as a “consultant” or as head of a casino when it became a reality. A bit like asking the fox to study how to secure the hen house. Please don’t let’s bring them back.

  8. navin johnson says:

    gaming in hotels with the majority of casino staff Bermudian would help offset room rates and most important create jobs and obtain foreign investment…never happen as the churches will shut it down…Bermuda churches would think it would hurt their contributions ergo the expensive suits and cars of the pastors would go…..

  9. stern says:

    Well, it’s about time!! Yes I think that gaming is the answer to boost the struggling economy in Bermuda. People give it a chance. Of course not everybody is going to be for it but I have personally spoken to many of tourist on the subject and all of them would love to enjoy a casino while vacationing here in bermuda. GIVE IT A CHANCE! Have the casinos for tourist only if need be to prevent our locals from gambling addictions. Bermuda, wake up! We need revenue to be brought into this island. The concept will also create jobs as well. I have been for this idea for years now. Let’s do it! Watch how sucessful it will be. If we don’t open our minds to reality then we will continue to sink into a deeper economic slump. More drugs and more crime. It’s up to you Bermuda!

  10. Tony Brannon says:

    The Hotels are dying, we are facing the worst winter EVER in Bermuda for Tourism (just ask ANY hotelier)…..and now we want to DELAY gaming by putting it to a referendum ? By the time that happens, more people will be out of work, more restaurants and shops closed and YES probably at least one or two of the few remaining hotels will go BROKE. Then Bermuda is closer to social unrest and chaos. Gaming needs to be resolved within 60 days. We just witnessed another year go by without a plan for Tourism. How many business people are saying, “We are hanging on by our fingernails” ??

    This is a crisis, has been for years…….The Politicians of the PLP and OBA need to LEAD and pass Gaming for our resort hotels within the next 60 days. If both sides say they CARE about Bermuda, Bermuda jobs, and revitalizing tourism, they will DO THE RIGHT THING.
    Hotels need to offer OPTIONS for guests. DEVELOPERS need to raise $$$$ to build hotels. Banks will not lend money for hotel development under the current BERMUDA HOTEL MODEL……The proof is in the fact that we see NO NEW HOTELS being built. Lots of promises, but no new hotels! If Bermuda does not change the GOAL POSTS fast, none of us will see any new development for years to come and certainly not in my lifetime 

    If Bermuda was being attacked by an enemy force would the PLP and OBA say that we need a referendum to decide whether or not to defend ourselves ? OR COURSE NOT. We are under economic attack, the likes of which Bermuda has never faced. A lot of it our OWN doing. Bermuda: “We cannot afford to waste another year, month, week or day”.

    Bermuda needs leadership like NEVER before.

    SINGAPORE turned their economy around and so can BERMUDA.

    Gaming and entertainment is not the ONLY answer to saving BERMUDA TOURISM but it is an OPTION that will provide fun and excitement for visitors and locals. It will also bring much needed revenue for hotels that face very high operating costs in Bermuda. Electricity in Bermuda is about the most expensive in the world as is the Internet, labor costs, food costs etc. Without other revenue streams resort hotels in Bermuda stand to go the way of the DODO bird. Many convention planners bypass Bermuda because of the lack of hotel amenities such as entertainment and gaming.

    Gaming: Grant hotel gaming licenses. Singapore Model (Locals can only gain access via membership that is $1000 per annum) All casinos must provide LIVE entertainment
    Manage Bermuda Tourism via a TOURISM AUTHORITY.
    REAL ESTATE POLICY is currently punitive and discriminatory for ALL Bermudians. OPEN MARKETS work best
    Change the tax policy on foreign/local real estate purchases so that you PAY on the way out/sale, not on the way in !
    GIVE FOREIGN INVESTORS who put more than $ 50 Million into Bermuda a Bermuda Passport (A cap of 10 new passports per year for 5 years: that will bring in $ 2.5 BILLION !)
    Give investors who put more than $ 10 million into local businesses a PRC
    Allow LEAR JETS free landing at LF WADE when bringing folks on holiday
    Allow foreign yachts the right to stay in Bermuda waters for one year
    Allow locals to bring their yachts into Bermuda for a period of one year without tax ( many keep them in the islands i.e Bahamas as visitor tax is only $ 250 per year)
    Build a fabulous HAMILTON Waterfront: Sir John Swan’s video
    Have a DEFINITIVE friendly policy for all investors in Bermuda that includes Immigration, schools, nannies, personal assistants etc
    MORGANS POINT : This has to be the BIG ONE, like Atlantis has been for the BAHAMAS.
    Create a great ALL INCLUSIVE Resort on the SONESTA BEACH site
    Encourage more boutique cottage colonies
    CUT COMPLEX: This is a fabulous development that should be embraced ASAP
    Create fun activities like Permanent Beach Volleyball/Beach Tennis courts and Beach Soccer behind the sand dunes at Horseshoe Bay.
    Widen TOWN CUT: St. George’s is dying !
    Revitalize the Dockyard by restoring the VICTUALLING YARD buildings with shops, entertainment and activities. Spruce up the whole area with decent lighting at night, security, buskers etc.
    Provide proper public transportation services for visitors. Fast Ferry service to and from dockyard until Midnight especially when the ships are here.

    Do NOT allow Cruise ships to operate casinos in port OR allow the main floor shows/entertainment on board ! Cruise ship visitors must we offered options for on island entertainment. In the old days of the 40 Thieves, Clay House Inn, Empire Room, the only way these establishments survived was with the support of the cruise ships. Everyone made money. NOW only the cruise ships make money!

    ZERO tolerance for criminal activity. Tough measures are needed. (Singapore has zero tolerance and almost zero crime. Bermuda is only 21 sq miles and there is no excuse for how out of control some people are, and so we must protect our future by dealing with CRIME/GANGS and lawless citizens)
    Restore a code of behavior for ALL schools – no exception

    All of the above can happen BUT it needs INVESTORS. Investors (local or foreign) will only invest in BERMUDA if we truly welcome them and make them feel good, safe and respected. The Government must provide the framework for the private sector to thrive.

    REMEMBER if we do the right thing Bermuda, we will see prosperity for all. You do not grow an economy by shrinking the work force.

    A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS (ATLANTIS in the BAHAMAS lifted the fortunes of many there – Bermuda needs a similar lift!)
    The aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” is associated with the idea that improvements in the general economy will benefit all participants in that economy, and that economic policy, particularly government economic policy, should therefore focus on the general macroeconomic environment first and foremost.

    • Ishta says:

      Hey Tony i like your energy and what you have written here…my question, is it possible to have a high level of entertainment fun and excitment here without Gaming? local entertainers need a place to showcase their talents so they can entertain to a level that our guest want to see and hear..always thought front street would be a good place for that…similar to Cape Towns waterfront…lots of peace to you …..

    • stern says:

      Well written Tony. Tell it like is it cause it is what it is. Simple. Gaming will help tremendously. It will be an economy boster for bermuda if the casino’s are run correctly. Can’t see any problems. The people who object are the one’s who don’t gamble. Simple. I’ll say that a lot of bermudians love to gamble and they do so when they travel abroad and that’s a fact. Bermuda needs to get out of the quicksand !!!(sinking fast)

  11. St.Davids....... says: