The debate over gaming on the Caribbean island of Bermuda has continued, with a former government minister calling for a referendum on gaming legalisation.
Terry Lister, who is now an independent member of Bermuda’s parliament, called for the referendum in the Bermuda Sun. Lister said that he believed the territory’s government should pass a bill and then allow the people to vote without any influence from the government.
“Everyone is in favour of a referendum, so the Referendum Bill needs to be successful,” Lister said. “During the debate on this bill, MPs can state their position on gaming, but once the bill has passed, the Government shouldn’t be out there beating the drum. The politicians should then stand back and let the people express their views, and go and vote.”
Debate over the legalization and regulation of gaming in Bermuda has been going on for most of this year, with both of the major political parties outlining their desire to see gaming legalized on the island. Both parties also appear to agree that a decision for the legalization of gaming should come via a referendum by Bermuda’s people.
No date for a referendum has been set even after both major parties, including the ruling one, agreed that a referendum should be undertaken. Although Bermuda’s Premier has said a referendum will be held by February. Lister told the Bermuda Sun that the British territory’s politicians should debate the measures but should not be the primary voice on the issue.
“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,” he said. “But once passed, it should be the vested interests, NGOs, churches and other interested parties who tackle the issue.”
While both major political parties in Bermuda have come out for the legalization of gaming, it appears the Bermudan people are more divided on the issue. This could be a reason why the government has been somewhat hesitant in holding a referendum; it would not look good if the people voted against something the government has openly come out in favor of.
There would be mutual benefits for poker, gaming and Bermuda if gambling were to be legalized and regulated. However, the decision is up to the people and that decision, whatever it may be, should be made sooner rather than later.