A referendum on the regulation of gaming in Bermuda is expected to be held at the end of the northern summer or the beginning of the fall, according to the island’s Tourism Minister.
The statement was made by the Minister, Shawn Crockwell, after he returned from a Caribbean tourism conference in Miami last week. Gaming was one of the issues discussed at the conference in the context that gaming regulation would help boost tourism numbers and revenue to Caribbean economies.
Minister Crockwell, whose Government supports the regulation of gaming in Bermuda, said the economic success gaming regulation has brought to other Caribbean nations and territories shows Bermuda would also benefit if the same was done on the island.
“It is clear that gaming features prominently in jurisdictions like the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. Indeed when I asked the question of how important gaming was to the jurisdiction, I was told it was crucial in getting new hotel developments to the country,” he said.
“To date their gaming has been geared more towards local residents and consisted mainly of slot machines, as they provide much revenue, but mainly attracted few visitors. However, they are now shifting to table games to bring new visitors to the island.”
Given the Minister’s statement on table games, it would be likely that poker would have an increased presence in Bermuda if gaming regulation occurred there. This is especially the case given the game’s general popularity as well as its established presence in other Caribbean areas.
In the Bahamas, for instance, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure event is held in January of every year. The event is one of the most prestigious on the global poker circuit and attracts some of the world’s best and famous players who are often vying for six-figure cash prizes.
The US Caribbean territory of Puerto Rico has poker tables or poker rooms in the vast majority of its tourist-targeted hotels, including the island’s Ritz-Carlton, Radisson Ambassador, Hyatt and Holiday Inn hotels. This had helped generate revenue for those hotels and the territory in general.
Jamaica passed two bills in November last year to allow casino companies to apply for operating licences and construct casinos on the island nation. A significant tourist spot in the region, Jamaica would likely benefit financially from any casinos that are built in the country’s tourist centres.
Minister Crockwell said that for Bermuda to see similar benefits in the future, it was imperative that any gaming referendum on the British territory was supported by its people.