Change of heart on casinos
September 18, 2013
For most of my life I have been against legalised gambling in Bermuda. Being personally affected (in the past) by another person's gambling addiction and witnessing the destruction of 3 families due to the same, have strongly influenced my reasoning.
The inevitable negative social impact and the potential for organised crime, prostitution and corruption of Government officials continue to remain my primary concerns.
I have to confess though, that this is a hypocritical stance because I have enjoyed the occasional stay at casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Foxwoods. Growing up, poker and rummy were the favourite card games in my household. My dad even introduced Gin Rummy to friends of his at the Leopards Club way back in the 50s.
For two reasons I have changed my mind on the issue and now feel inclined to support measures for legalised gambling here at home. The first reason is because I believe two prospective 5 star hotels with casinos will boost the local economy and create jobs for Bermudians. The second reason is that the worldwide recession (coupled with frivolous spending by the previous Government) proved that Bermuda had too many eggs in the basket of international business.
Morgan's Point and the former Club Med properties are the ideal sites for the development of such hotels that could include casinos.
Even though I have shifted my position, I still have many reservations about legalised gambling. One of the main ways to protect our society is by not allowing locals to enter the casinos and participate in gambling. This has been set-up similarly in other vacation hot spots so we would not be the first. This of course will not go down well with advocates for full blown legalised gambling. To me the compromise would be to introduce a legislative clause to allow Bermudians to gamble in the Island's proposed casinos on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and for the whole month of March only (when there are negligible tourists on the island).
I don't think a National Referendum on this issue is necessary and I look to the Parliamentarians to debate the matter and lead the country, similarly as they did on implementing Sexual Orientation in the Human Rights Act.
I also hope that the Parliamentarians table legislation to decriminalise marijuana. But one thing is for sure, even though I personally support Independence, I believe this matter is something for the people of Bermuda to decide by way of National Referendum.