MP Terry Lister On Casino Gaming, Referendum

November 6, 2013

[Written by Independent MP Terry Lister] Much has been said about casino gaming over the past few years. It has been purported that introducing casino gaming could save the tourism industry and get Bermuda back on the tourism map. Many believe that we have fallen behind in the tourism industry because we have failed to move with the times.

On the other hand those who have opposed casino gaming speak to the social ills that may result, the corruption and crime that is thought to be associated with the gaming industry as well as the possible negative impact on the existing tourist base.

The Government of Bermuda, following the position held by the former Government, has promised to allow the people to make the decision as to gaming or no gaming.

And, while I strongly believe that elected officials are elected to make the difficult decisions, I applaud the Government for staying on course with the previous Government’s commitment. This decision will have long term ramifications for Bermuda, both good and bad. No one on either side of argument denies both the good and bad.

However, I do come adrift from Government in a major way. Having said the people should decide, it is my view that Government’s responsibility is to draft the Gaming Bill, bring it to Parliament, have it debated and passed, with or without amendement, and to then allow the proponents of each side of the debate to state their case to the people and to have the people decide. I think the people are wise enough to hear the arguments and determine what they believe to be the way forward.

If the politicians are to give the decision to the people then do so and step back. I am disturbed by strong comments from both the Premier and the Minister of Tourism who have stated that casino gambling is vital for our future success.

I believe that the politicians should provide all their arguments during the debate in the House indicating to the people what they believe to be the benefits and pitfalls of this decision but once passed, it should be the vested interests, NGOs, churches and other interested parties who tackle the issue.

To refresh the memories, I have heard five strong arguments for gaming while noting five strong arguments against. I will put those forward now without taking a position until the debate in Parliament.

I also wish to state my intention of reiterating these points and fleshing them out more in the House debate rather than placing my emphasis on trying to convince the people to vote one way or the other.

The arguments in favour of gaming say that gaming will spur hotel development; casinos will be profitable; attract tourists; provide greater tax revenues; and create jobs.

The counter arguments say that with gaming comes addiction, crime, social ills; the jobs are low paying low quality jobs; new hotels with casinos will make existing hotels less attractive and thus less profitable; after casino gaming Government will be required to allow online gaming with even greater social costs; and lastly, having allowed casino gaming, Government will be required to legalise slot machine gambling which was banned only a few years ago.

The above pros and cons are only some of the issues to be considered. I expect that my Parliamentary colleagues will pass a well drafted Bill. I then hope that the people will carefully consider this measure and vote as they see best for the long term benefit of Bermuda and their families.

- Terry Lister

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Comments (21)

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  1. San George says:

    If we are going to have gaming it should be Crown & Anchor and Poker. No slots. Mr. Lister we have a representative government – it is your job to carry-out the will of the people. Any aspect of your job that is hard is because you have made it hard by fighting battles that are not yours.

    • God Grant Me the Serenity says:

      @San Geore
      It is clearly a case of you misreading both the article and not hearing what both previous and present governments have been saying for more than two years. That is – the PEOPLE will decide via a referendum. So it is foolish to accuse Mr. Lister of not being willing to make the decision. The decision will be made by the people as agreed by both political. So really it is up to you to make the decision. As a citizen of Bermuda I am sure Mr. Lister will take his decision when the time comes. Hopefully you will too – because the governments have said it is up to the people of Bermuda to take the decision on gaming. The Government of today intends to bring it to ALL OF US in doing so.Never mind Mr. Lister – are YOU ready AND BOLD ENOUGH to take this decision yourself?

    • Robert says:

      What ?!!!……are you dumb ?!!!!

  2. Well done Mr Lister, I hope other MP’s state their thoughts and where they stand on this issue as you have. I agree with how you think it should be debated in the house before a reforendum is held that is a good way of getting the thoughts of the MP”s out in the public domain so that they can then make a realistic decision on the matter..but sooner rather than later.

  3. CBA says:

    I cannot believe so much fuss is being made about gaming. Do we actually think that a casino is going to have a huge effect on our economy? Tourists can go anywhere for casinos, so why Bermuda over the rest? Do we actually think that a casino is is the answer to our debt? We may just be blowing this a bit out of proportion.

    • yesman says:

      Do you have any other ideas to boost our tourism industry?

    • Be Like Me says:

      @CBA I agree, I don’t think that gaming will have a huge impact on tourism or the economy. However, I do think that we will see some “short term” impact from the construction of new hotels with casino’s. My hope would be that this increase in construction will keep the county going long enough for the world economy to recover.

      I actually am pro gaming, but I also feel that government needs to have strict controls in place as to WHO can gamble. And severe fines for establishments that contravene the rules. IE if you owe child support then NO GO!!!

    • Robert says:

      Cba, it may not be the end all cure, but im damn sure it wouldn’t hurt

  4. DeliverUs says:


  5. Winnie Dread says:

    Gambling/Gaming same difference sometime I get the impression that it is not happening in this country…. While it will not solve our leisure visitor issue it will certainly enhance it…. At the end of the day a low paying job is better than a no paying job aka no job at all…. I say yea! The Principality of Monaco, The Bahamas, St.Maarten have not fallen off the planet, why would/should Bda…. Whenever the Churches start to pay taxes and create employment then they MAY have a point.

  6. Watching says:

    I agree with Lister. Our elected leaders are there to make the tough decisions for the betterment of Bermuda. You cannot ask the public for everything all of the time as you will never get anything done.

    I laugh at the crime statements…seriously we have crime increasing regardless, just maybe casinos will provide job opportunities and those that are committing these crimes will have a purpose in life..who knows but just make a decision for crying out loud!

  7. Truth is killin' me... says:

    All-in or nothing at all!

  8. March Hare says:

    Mr. Lister I respectfully suggest that your statement

    “it is my view that Government’s responsibility is to draft the Gaming Bill, bring it to Parliament, have it debated and passed, with or without amendement, and to then allow the proponents of each side of the debate”, is incorrect.

    This is the reverse of the role and function of Parliament, as once a Bill has passed through both Houses and received Royal Assent, it is the law, and the time for debate has gone. The correct way of inviting debate is for the Government to publish either a ‘Green Paper’ or a ‘White Paper’.

    White Papers are used as a means of presenting government policy prior to the introduction of legislation. As such, the publication of a White Paper serves to test the climate of public opinion regarding a controversial policy issue and enables the government to gauge its probable impact.

    A Green Paper is usually less firm and takes the form of a consultation document. Green papers may merely propose a strategy or set out legislative proposals on which the Government wishes to obtain public views and opinion.

    I am all for an open debate on this issue, but way before a debate in the House of Assembly. That is beginning of the final stage.

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      I would like to thank March Hare for his common sense post. It did not miss me that Lister first commends the current govt for continuing the previous govt position of having a referendum, and then….wait for it……he states that the MPs should debate and pass a gaming bill AND then take it to the people! And why can’t the Premier or Minister express their views strongly, isn’t that their job? I think Mr. Lister, in trying to look relevant, has only caused more confusion. I’m tired of politicians acting like people are stupid.

  9. Headless Horseman says:

    that’s all ever hear about Gambling.
    either allow it or not,but enough with the B/S.

    • yesman says:

      Exactly. Did you see how he circled around the mulberry bush? He took us around for a few laps.

  10. Pastor Syl Hayward says:

    Thank you, March Hare for clarifying the correct procedure for debate. The House is the final stage before items become law. So debate must come first.

    • Robert says:

      Pastor, i dont trust a syllable that falls from your face……….

  11. observer says:

    As A taxidriver who I cater to locals and tourist alike, many and I mean many tourist ask for gaming here or I should say how come there isn’t any gambling here……A beautiful island and a short trip, especially money spenders say I would come here on a regular basis….But besides gambling, lots of tourists say the night life here is dead and true it’s been dead for many years….To me nowadays the younger generations are spending their parents fortunes, so we need the night life and gambling and sporting activities which are televised live…Etc. offshore boat racing, sailboat racing, fishing tournaments, it’s too many to name besides water events…..and gov’t can intervine or help negotiate when it comes to the cost burden because if it’s being televised it’s all apart of promoting my home sweet home no matter what…..