Bermuda’s Tourism Minister Shown Crockwell has reiterated his personal support for the legalisation and regulation of gaming in the territory, but emphasised that the decision must be made by the people and not the government.
It came after he was questioned by an opposition member on the issue, who asked why a referendum was required if the Minister and the Government were for gaming legalisation. Minister Crockwell pointed out that the idea of a referendum was first brought up by the member’s party when they were previously in Government.
The Minister also said that despite his and his party’s views on the issue, a referendum is the most appropriate way of approaching gaming legalisation and regulation.
“We believe that this issue should ultimately be decided by the people of the country,” he said. “It is our responsibility to look at new ways to improve our business, such as exploring whether gaming is right for Bermuda, and working to attract investment in our destination…failure is not an option.”
Tourism in Bermuda has decreased in recent years, something which has adversely impacted the island’s economy. Attracting tourists to Bermuda has constantly been cited as the core reason for the Government’s support for the legalisation of gaming.
Minister Crockwell said the issue was discussed at the recent Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s (CTO) annual Caribbean Week festivities in New York. According to the Minister, who attended Caribbean Week, he was quizzed by a number of figures on whether Bermuda would consider establishing a gaming industry.
“This is, without a doubt, a hot-button issue and the tourism industry is watching very closely whether or not Bermuda will become a player, so to speak, in this potentially lucrative market and thereby become more competitive,” he said. “It was clear that the tourism media is paying close attention to what we are doing here in Bermuda.”
It is a positive sign for poker and gaming in general that Minister Crockwell and the Government he serves see the benefits of gaming legalisation for Bermuda. Along with potentially boosting tourist numbers, there is also the potential that Bermuda could be a host of professional poker events if it so wishes.
Bermuda’s proximity to North America, as well as its status as a territory of the UK, could make it a worthy place for professional poker players from Europe, Canada and the US to ply their craft. This would only be able to occur however, if gaming is legalised and regulated on the island.
On the other side of things, Bermuda only has around 64,000 people and is, given the small size of the island, a relatively tight knit community. The establishment of a gaming industry on the territory would likely have a direct effect on a large number of Bermudans as a result.
Because of this, the Government of Bermuda are making the right choice by letting the people decide whether they think legalising and regulating gaming is the right choice for them and the community they live in.
The Government is also doing the right thing by airing its sentiments on the issues and the potential benefits gaming may bring, as it gives gentle encouragement to Bermuda’s people to vote for gaming when a future referendum occurs.