Rabain: ‘Getting Referendum Question Right’

December 9, 2013

[Written by Opposition Senator Diallo Rabain] In 2012, the then PLP government tabled the 2012 Gaming Referendum Act. This Act [PDF] proposed the following question, “Should there be licensed casino gaming in Bermuda?”

After a year of will or won’t we have a referendum, the OBA has tabled the 2013 Gaming Referendum Act which asks, “Do you favour the introduction of regulated casino gaming for the purposes of creating new jobs for Bermudians and encouraging hotel development?”

Do you feel this an honest question to take to the people? Or a thinly veiled act to exploit the people’s fears over jobs? A means to manipulate the process to ensure a certain outcome?

Why doesn’t the OBA just lay the facts out and ask a non-weighted question allowing Bermudians to decide for themselves?


We are not saying gaming will not encourage hotel development and by extension new jobs. The PLP’s Green Paper on Gaming, showed the potential benefits.

Furthermore, the PLP recognizes that Bermuda needs a game changer in tourism and for our product to be improved. Yet we also recognize that there are risks involved.

That’s why we believe in an honest, open and transparent referendum where both pros and cons are given a full airing and where Bermudians are fully informed . The people’s desire for the direction of our country must be clearly heard.

We cannot allow a process that will be used to exploit Bermudians fears, preying upon the economic challenges of our people. It isn’t fair to Bermudians and it simply isn’t right.

Imagine the sentiments if an anti-gaming government, via referendum asked, “Do you favour the introduction of casino gaming in spite of the vast social problems it creates in societies across the globe?”

How would pro-gaming Bermudians react?

Faith in Bermudians

Despite the thinly veiled comments we hear daily, Bermudians are NOT stupid. We are more than capable of making an informed rational choices about the direction of our island home.

We do not need to be manipulated into making the “right” decision. At the end of the day, armed with the facts we may not all agree, but we will be capable of deciding for ourselves.

Between the OBA’s indecisiveness and the dubious referendum question they intend to ask, the Referendum debate is already off to a shaky start.

In the last year we saw our Premier, seemingly indecisive about whether to keep the OBA’s promise to hold a referendum and obey the will of the people.

A year that saw hotel investment fly to competitors like Jamaica, while we were paralyzed. After a year, the Premier has made the right choice and the people will finally have their say.

Now, we need an open, honest and transparent process free of manipulation that will give an open, honest and transparent result.

A chance for Unity

The opportunity exists for collaboration. The PLP is offering to work with the OBA to get the referendum question balanced.

Ensuring that both sides of the gaming debate have their say and on an open process free of manipulation. Bermudians deserve nothing less.

Please continue to share your ideas with us

- Senator Diallo Rabain [Article amended at 10.28am]

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Comments (45)

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  1. Al says:

    The old saying: People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones comes to mind here.

    The PLP wasted how many years???!!! Until the PLP start to have some perspective on their own failures it’s impossible to take them seriously.

    Good policy takes time to get right because there’s a large amount of homework. If you think a year was wasted then you haven’t bothered to even ask your colleagues across the floor what they were doing for that year.

  2. Navin Johnson says:

    Just get the thing done before we sink even further…..endless debate and politicking solves nothing…..if the purpose of allowing gaming is to stimulate the economy with employment opportunities what is wrong with the question.? Just do it …..

  3. Bill Stephens says:

    We have got to get it right – take our time and implement a responsible gaming solution for Bermuda with the transparency that is necessary to ensure that we as Bermudians own the industry and that we ultimately benefit from that industry in jobs, overseas investment and taxation. We need to pay down a huge National Debt and we need to put Bermudians to work and we need to attract investment in our Tourism product – we dont have anything else that will achieve these goals. Let’s stop with the reasons why not and focus on the reasons “why” we should move forward and make sure it is done responsibly.

  4. OB1 says:

    The message from Senator Diallo Rabain is valid as the proposed question is loaded. PLP past history is not important here. The issue I have had with every post that criticizes the PLP Government, and yes they made their fair share of errors, is that where was the shadow ministry of UBP/OBA then? The UBP can’t make a move without the PLP saying something, challenging something in some way. Why? It is their duty to the people. Challenge everything. When they were in power, they had very little. Perhaps because the shadow party was rebranding and didn’t have time to challenge, who knows?

    All I know is that they are doing their job. I would be remised if I didn’t constantly see them questioning and challenging everything. Leave all your glass house, old news comments to yourself or small group of friends locked in an ever winding loop of ignorance.

    There is a chance to move forward here. Take it kiddo.

    • Al says:

      All I ask, really are two things:

      1. The Senator take the time to ask his colleagues what they did for the year between taking over office and the referendum before accusing them of “waste”. Is that too much to ask?

      2. The PLP and its members should have perspective on the PLP’s time in power and how much was not accomplished before criticising the OBA for getting things done that the PLP couldn’t or didn’t do.

      Is that unreasonable?

      • Question says:

        Your two questions are simple and valid.

        What makes you believe (or know) that the Opposition Senate Leader has not already asked those questions of his colleagues?

        Additionally, your post does not speak to the point the Senator was making – - re: the loaded question regarding the gaming referendum.

        Please stick to the subject at hand – - apparently, this is a trap that zealots from both parties fall into.

        We are better than that, Bermuda – period.


      • Kim Smith says:

        Yes, Al, I think it is unreasonable because it continuously drags us back to the past and don’t forget, the UBP made mistakes too. We need to move forward with whichever Government gets their act together and truly represents all the people with well-thought-out plans and budgets. Honesty seems to come in small measure these days and so evidence to that end should also be a requirement of our leaders.

  5. Winnie Dread says:

    Thats the question, plain simple and unloaded, let’s get on with it.Too much time has/is been wasted.

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


    • Question says:

      Would that be your position if the shoe was on the other foot?

      I think not. He has a valid point – - the question is slanted and should be corrected.


  7. Speckled Hind says:

    We are just delying the inevitable. We will HAVE to have gaming at some point. The politicians should just get on with it and do away with the referendum. It will be half a million wasted – and the vote might be no thus delaying it another few years – by which time Bermuda may well have sunk below the waves of the Atlantic.

    We aren’t competitive – and every day we don’t have gaming – we won’t be competitive.

    • Portia says:

      Why do we HAVE to have gaming here? Why, when there is no evidence that it will be successful? You are making that assumption because it works in other jurisdictions – but Bermuda is not those jurisdictions, and never will be. We will never be Vegas or Atlantic City. Why? Because we cannot offer what they offer at the prices they offer it. It is as simple as that.

      You are right, we are not competitive – our prices are not competitive, and neither is the entertainment or the shopping, etc. etc. These other gaming places have all that in their favour. You cannot always take what one place has and assume that it will work here. That is a recipe for disaster.

      • Family Man says:

        Bermuda’s no longer unique. We’ve run out of ideas and the best we can do is become another “me too” destination.

        Kind of like Microsoft wanting to sell mp3 players and tablets because they’re really successful at another company. How’s that working for them?

      • Mike Hind says:

        You just answered your own question. Gaming will force us to up our game, across the board, as well as being an incentive for investors. There is no question that gaming will provide jobs. To pretend that it wouldn’t help us improve our product is either stunningly naive or overtly deceptive.

        • Family Man says:

          To say that the introduction of gaming would help us improve our product is a jump in logic that I can’t follow.

          Our biggest ‘product’ right now is international business and financial services. I’m not sure that the introduction of a casino operation and the attraction of the characters that implies would help our reputation.

          Anybody with a casino license would only want to improve the casino and keep people in the casino. How would this improve our product? At this point I don’t think Bermuda even knows what its product is.

          If Bermuda hasn’t been forced to improve their tourism game after twenty years of decline, I hardly think they’re going to suddenly be inspired by a casino or two.

          • Mike Hind says:

            My bad. I should have said “Tourism Product” which, while not the biggest in terms of money brought in, is certainly important with regards to providing jobs to Bermudians.

            Just ‘cuz you can’t follow it doesn’t mean it’s not valid.

            Not sure how to make it clearer. Your post does show a naiveté that I’m not sure how to get through to.

          • Hmmm says:

            Wow , so you just want to close down tourism , entertainment, prevent job opportunities for Bermudians. You know that visitors and overseas business folk will spend money in the casino and tax dollars will be created for the country. I think a vote against this signifies that you don’t think Bermudians are good enough to work in or have a casino. I can see no other reason to want to block this, unless it’s driven out of fear and ignorance. We are above that I hope.

      • Hmmmm says:

        Have you even been in a casino and played?

        If so where and when ?

      • Speckled Hind says:

        Portia. Non of what you said is a reason NOT to try gaming. If it doesn’t work, then so be it. I’m sure there were people against inside/flushing toilets way back when. There were definitely people against cars. Gaming is expected at tourist destinations. We must have it if we are to be competitive. Turning our backs on gaming is also turning our backs on tourism. If that be the case then – again – so be it. but you must realize what you are doing. The only way we can EVER have evidence of success is by trying it. I feel sorry that you can’t see beyond your own nose.

      • JUSTIN FRANK says:

        Well said Portia.

  8. Triangle Drifter says:

    This can has been kicked down the road of time since way back in UBP days. The UBP was deathly afraid of losing the church vote. They were not getting that church vote anytime, anyway. The PLP kicked it some more. They were also afraid of losing the church vote. The threat was real for them even though more than as few in the church enjoy their gambling in Vegas or on cruises. Hypocrites, but what is new in the church?

    Now it is the OBA’s turn at the can. The chance at being ahead of the competition & having gaming is long past. Now it is needed just to keep up with what the competition is doing.

    Get on with it. Time is wasting away. Next year is already lost.

  9. Hmmmm says:

    “Do you favour the introduction of regulated casino gaming for the purposes of creating new jobs for Bermudians and encouraging hotel development?”

    YES !

    I think it is a good question.

    • Question says:

      You would.


      • Hmmmm says:

        I’d love to get down there and play in a poker tournament, see a WPT event. I’m sure international business visitors wouldn’t mind spending a few dollars here and there for a bit of entertainment.

    • Family Man says:

      “Do you favour the introduction of regulated prostitution for the purposes of creating new jobs for Bermudians and encouraging bordello development?”

  10. Victor says:

    Fourteen years in power and not a single PLP Cabinet had the courage to take this simple Yes or No decision to the country. Now that the new Government with an economic gun to its head because of PLP incompetence and worse has found this courage, the PLP former powers-that-be are whining. What this rabble are really whining about is losing the high life of unaccounted and wasteful self-serving so-called Government spending that they still believe is their due.

  11. RSLJ says:

    In the early part of this year, the Electoral Commission in Scotland had concluded that the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) proposed wording for the referendum on Scottish independence was not fair because of bias since it has the potential to lead voters to giving a “Yes” vote.
    Alex Salmond the First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) who was reluctant to accept that his party should look at the question, was asked to test the Scottish government’s proposed question of;
    “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country? Yes/No”
    Whilst the Commission reported that it recognises that the question is clear, it nevertheless concluded:
    “Based on our research and taking into account what we heard from people and organisations who submitted their views on the question, we consider that the proposed question is not neutral because the phrase ‘Do you agree…?’ could lead people towards voting ‘yes’.”
    The Commission goes on to recommend the question put to the Scottish people be:
    “Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No”
    John McCormick, Electoral Commissioner for Scotland, said:
    “We have rigorously tested the proposed question, speaking to a wide range of people across Scotland. Any referendum question must be, and be seen to be, neutral. People told us that they felt the words ‘Do you agree’ could lead voters towards voting ‘yes’. It required that people had a clear understanding that ‘independent country’ meant being separate from the UK. But they did want factual information in advance about what will happen after the referendum. We’re asking the UK and Scottish government to provide that clarity and we’ll then make sure it gets to voters as part of our public awareness campaign.”

    In the Bermuda context, the question;
    “Do you favour the introduction of regulated casino gaming for the purposes of creating new jobs for Bermudians and encouraging hotel development?” fails all of the guidelines established for fairness in the Electoral Commission noted above. Interesting!!! But we all know; “Bermuda is Another World!!!”

  12. Kangoocar says:

    I see no problem with the question, the question simply states the intended purpose of gambling!!! We have very little to lose by having gambling and possible a lot to gain by having it!!! The nay Sayers need to get their heads out of there arses and support something that will only enhance our visitors time here if they choose to gamble. We need to offer our visitors upscale facilities that also include good entertainment for those that only want that, I am not a gambler but sure would support a place that provided shows, good live bands, and yes that means bands from over seas, local bands can start the shows but we need the really good stuff, comedians and hypnotist etc!!! Back in the days when the Princess hotels provided this stuff it was always full!!! I do not think for one moment this will be the silver bullet that will take care of all our problems, but it sure as heck will help!!! Why would anyone be against something that will give Bermudians jobs??? There already is gambling in Bermuda by way of the betting shops and crown and anchor along with bingo!!! I guess bingo is ok as long as the churches are providing it????? If Bermuda had listened to the churches we would not be able to this day enjoy the rite of grocery shopping on Sundays, even though now the first place the church goers are seen after their sermon is the grocery store!!!!!

  13. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    @ Kangoocar – Would you gamble if you knew you will lose?

    • Kangoocar says:

      Did you read what I said??? I distinctly said I do not gamble!! But would support the the side stuff, I will add though, it is my belief that I should never dictate what I do, too those that choose to gamble!!!! It is their choice, not yours, mine or anybody else’s!!!!!

      • JUSTIN FRANK says:

        You say you are not a gambler now, but you will be. No matter which way you choose to look at it, whether you choose to not enter a casino and gamble, or maybe you do choose to enter and still not gamble, just remember one thing, you still are a gambler because you want it here. You honestly cannot say, you don’t gamble no more. Just an opinion.

      • JUSTIN FRANK says:

        @ kangoocar, yes I did read the words you typed.

    • Hmmm says:

      All games are in the house favour or there would be no casinos. You go in expecting to lose what you stake, you go in to play. If you come out with more than you went in with, then yay bonus.

      Would you run the May 24th if you knew you were going to lose. Yes you would, because you ran it for the experience.

  14. Political says:

    Thank The Lord we have a new govt.

  15. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    Question – Would you like to live in vegas, or this Bermudaful island? Bermuda is a home, not a gambling station.

    • Bill Stephens says:

      We need a new industry folks – one that employs Bermudians and attracts investment to Bermuda as well as giving our Tourists alternatives for their entertainment $.

      Bermuda IS unique! YES – we should have pink sand and blue water casinos and the world’s most polite and awesome dealers and casino executives all dressed and pressed in OUR BERMUDA shorts!

      When you gamble with US in Bermuda you get a unique experience and one you wont soon forget! Everything from our chips to our cards – all BERMUDA and very proud of it!

      Get behind this Bermuda! let’s generate as much $ we can from taxation and fund National Debt and social programs and church refurbishments – our churches are falling apart and roofs need painting – lets get some $ to pay it all down / forward.

      and we got OUR crown and anchor to offer to our guests – go for it Bermuda!

    • Hmmmm says:

      Justin Frank, what have you been drinking. Why are you not campaigning to BAN crown & Anchor, Church Bingo, fund raising raffles, new business ( they are a gamble), choice of religion…surely the one you choose and the rules you try to follow are a gamble.

      • JUSTIN FRANK says:

        If I was a gambler, then Hmmmmmm would be all you can say. There is only one point/question that is not being provided nor questioned – What will be our expense out, and how long will it take to return? We as a whole should be allowed to see these statistics (if there are any, or if they are in the works) because if we know gambling will hurt our social island relaxed life, then we (the people/workers/employers/fathers/mothers/grandparents/great grandparents/BERMUDIANS) as a whole need to make sure we all understand the sacrifice made.

      • JUSTIN FRANK says:

        Further more, which generation allowed bingo/raffles/crown and anchor?

  16. Chalky White says:

    Bermuda where nothing gets done and if by some slim chance it does get done its wrong…how about this on the issue of gaming……..GAMING yes or no? does that solve it for you? no reference to the fact it would be regulated..no reference to jobs or hotels just a simple yes or no….clock keeps ticking towards our next ratings downgrade which should coincide with rising interest rates as the US economy has been picking up speed and the Fed will eliminate stimulus just in time for Bermuda to look to finance debt..disaster….

  17. Ruthless says:

    People think that all the people visiting Las Vegas are tourist?! At least half of the people you see there are on some type of business! Whether it be business meeting! Mr. & Mrs. Olympia, road show, electronics show, karate tournament, entertainers and other interest! What do you think they do in their spare time? Gamble or had some other form of fun! Bermudians need to get off their high horse! Oh, I forgot! A good majority of them are also church goers! At least wherever they come from!

  18. JUSTIN FRANK says:

    Hmmmmmm, I just might

  19. Starting point says:

    Perhaps you all need a referendum question “should the proposed referendum question put forth by the OBA in regards to gaming be used”

    waste some more time lol while your at it, why not conduct another 5 year census or develop a bus schedule…you wonder why Bermuda is no longer relevant….