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A gamble on gaming

It is not by any means a scientific poll, but perhaps an indicator of how the Country is thinking.

Yesterday a poll on www.royalgazette.com asked: If Government holds a referendum on gaming later this year, which way will you vote?” There were 3,067 votes.

What was interesting was the split: 47 percent for and 47 percent against, three percent said they would abstain and three percent said they would vote no.

And there is the issue. Gaming has the potential to split the Island. In the time

The Royal Gazette has been running polls, there has never been a result like this.

Government has said there will be a referendum on gaming later this year and it seems certain to be a contentious issue, and, if this poll is anything to go by, it will be a close call.

We do not yet know how the referendum will be run. For instance, will a 75 percent vote in favour be needed in order to give gaming the go-ahead, or will it be decided by a simple majority vote?

If it is the latter, Government may see that a hugely significant proportion of the voting population is against gaming. What should it then do? Can it go ahead if there is no clear majority?

The answer is yes.

This newspaper shares concerns that gaming could attract significantly from the local population and this newspaper would urge that a good percentage of any profits is ring-fenced for addiction counselling, proper education, charitable donations or even to be put towards the cost of community projects that benefit the people of Bermuda.

But Bermuda desperately needs to modernise its tourist offerings. It needs to be competitive and not left behind.

As Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell said: “It is a sobering reality that 2012 was a turnaround year for Caribbean tourism yet in Bermuda our tourism numbers were down six percent, GDP contribution from tourism was down and we are still in decline.”

There may be religious and ethical issues, but the fact is that Bermuda has to exist in the 21st Century. They say 'Bermuda is another world.” Well, maybe it is time, for the good of the Country as a whole, that Bermuda moves closer to the demands of the rest of the world.

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Published June 06, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 05, 2013 at 10:13 pm)

A gamble on gaming

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