Bermuda to hold gaming referendum this year

| 03/06/2013

shawn-crockwell.jpg(CNS): Bermuda Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell has announced that the country will have a referendum on gaming later this year, noting that that Bermuda’s hospitality industry is trailing significantly when compared to competitive destinations in the Caribbean, according to local news reports. “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," Crockwell told MPs following a recent conference for Caribbean hoteliers, developers and hospitality representatives. “It became crystal clear to me … that we are no longer considered players in the hotel investment arena."

"As a country we must decide if we want to be in the tourism business or not,” he said, noting that 2012 was a turnaround year for some of Bermuda's competitors, such as the Bahamas, Barbados and Puerto Rico, which experienced an increase in tourism revenue, occupancy and demand, while Bermuda did not.

“I also learned of the significant hotel developments in places like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. In the Dominican Republic alone there are ten major developments worth approximately $2.5 billion,” he added.

“In the Bahamas they are developing the ‘Baha Mar’ Resort, which will comprise four hotels with a combined 2,200 rooms, and more than 300 private residences. This is helping their economy tremendously with increasing employment — so much so that there are not enough locals to fill the jobs and guest workers are expected to come to the Island to service this resort.”

He said gaming features prominently in jurisdictions like the Bahamas and Puerto Rico, but that the industry attracted more local residents than visitors.

“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. 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.”

He said the Bermuda government would lay the Gaming Referendum Bill in the current session and expected to hold a referendum at the end of summer or beginning of fall.

“I will add that it is imperative for our tourism revival that the referendum is supported,” he said.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Boy dem desperate High Rollers really meking comments on dis one.  KeKe how many a dees comments u made?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Airways is flying again to Panama with flights Monday's and Thursday's starting June 27th.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I feel sorry for Bermuda if this is the best person they can put forth as their Tourism Minister. Bermuda sits in a prime geographical location between two of the worlds most massive continents.  That gives the Bermuda a distinct advantage over many other destinations based on access to millions and millions of travelers.  

    Maybe the Minister needs to notice Bermuda is overpriced and already overbuilt.  The fact that more than 50% of Bermuda's once avaiable room inventory has been eliminated by the closure of one hotel after another may have something to do with the worldwide recession as well as aging properties.  The fact that Bermuda cannot gain in their tourism numbers andcontinues to slip backwards as economies recover, speaks more to lack of leadership from Bermuda's representatives, government and business leaders alike. 

    The fact that the minister admits "that we are no longer considered players in the hotel investment arena" as Bermuda has been for some time now, speaks more to the fact that Bermuda is one of the most expensive places anywhere in the world to construct anything.  If a developer cannot receive a return on investment within a reasonable timeline, what is the point of pumping money into a bottomless pit? 

    Maybe I am missing something and Bermuda's leaders are as corrupt as the bunch most of Cayman just got rid of.  Although the proposed referendum appears to be Government led rather than People led, if Bermuda's people are so lazy that they want their country to go further backwards by allowing casinos I say mek em have their way.  More business for Cayman.  

    Thankfully Cayman just voted to get rid of representatives the like of Mr. CROCKwell.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Tourists have been telling locals and officials alike for decades it is the uniqueness of Cayman that has drawn them here.  Setting up another copy cat casino destination in Cayman will eliminate a grossly underserved sector of the worldwide tourism market.  All with no guarantee that there will be a net gain in "tourists".  Casinos are more likely to attract the whiny, "bored", unappreciative, non-imaginative, malcontent local crowd.   

    • Anonymous says:

      There is nothing unique about Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lame. You can go back to sleep now.  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    • Anonymous says:

      nonsense…. an improved product will lead to more tourists….

      if you think the good ole days are what people want…why isn't the brac flooded with tourists?????

      • Anonymous says:

        Casinos equalling an improved product is quite a stretch.

        If you kept up with what is going on around Cayman 27 just did a piece on Cayman Brac and what the plans are to accomodate more tourists.

        And by the way these are the good ole days.  Just that nags like you go out of their way to make it miserable for everyone else. 

  5. Chris says:

    Legalised prostitution and legalised ganja may also bring new tourists and jobs and revenue…..the question is, where do we stop the madness?

    Legalised gambling is not what the Cayman people need.

    Right now we have more jobs than people so using the "jobs" argument to promote the idea of legalising casinos is pretty lame.

    Caymanians need

    1. the will to work,

    2. the opportunity to work and

    3. training to get the job done right.

    Once these three criteria are met, the govt will free up their social services budget so they can spend money in other areas and these newly productive citizens will spend their earnings which will also stimulate the economy.

    All of this problem solving and economic stimulation and crime reduction without opening a single casino….now thats what i call a good gamble!

    • Anonymous says:

      I disagree with you immensely.

      CAYMAN needs gambling. Like any investment advisor would say you should diversify your portfolio then we too need to diversify our product.

      We have the finance industry. This needs to be looked at as to what more we can bring to the table here.

      We have the tourism industry and this is doing okay but we can not rest on anything. We need to expand our field and while we are working towards one of these in medical tourism we need to look at further ehancements.

      By the way we already have prostitution here if you don't know WAKE UP.

      Gambling is already here and all but legal. The only difference right now is that our government is making nothing on it and all the money is going overseas.

      Yes Caymanians need jobs, Yes they need training but what we need is protection against being complacent on what we have as our only source of revenues. We are on the brink of taxes and that will be our deathnell.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So, the argument is that other islands are doing better tourism, so Bermuda (Cayman) should consider gambling but the other islands say ‘the industry attracted more locals than tourists’. Only a politician, or pro-gambling psycophants could say/read this stuff and still think that we need gambling. – ps the article also didn’t say more tourists, just more tourism construction. because Cayman’s problem is underemployment in the tourism industry right.

    Milk & Carrots

  7. Anonymous says:

    The Bahamas has taken the lead in tourism in the Caribbean. This was followed by the Dominican Republic with their all inclusive resorts, modelled on the Jamaican resorts in Negril and Mo Bay.

    Even the Turks & Cacios Islands have now surpassed the Cayman Islands in tourism and real estate values!!

    All the while we sit here on our rock and watch everyone else better their economy and improve the job prospects for their people.

    What do we need to do to make it abundently clear that our tourism product in the Cayman Islands to sub standard and out of date. I sincerely hope the new minister for tourism understands this and makes this his priorty. 

    We need a massive investment in our tourism sector beccause the Cayman Islands is under seige by the world's politicans to tax even and that includes Cayman. If we lose our tax advantanges all we will have left is the sunshine, beach and warm beezes to fuel our economy because the bank will close overnight and the resident money will leave in an instant. Look to the future with a plan to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

    • Anonymous says:

      And you have to be realistic and accept that the beach is not that special and has been destroyed by development and the rest of Grand Cayman cannot compete very well when it comes to natural beauty, culture or tourist attractions.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Can you imagine how much the first casino licence would be worth in Cayman.  We need to get with the times.

    • Dennis Smith says:

      Actually not as much as you think. Gamming is not the exception any more; it’s entertainment and expected, like having good restaurants and a spa. No hotel should be allowed to open unless it has a Casino.

      Can you imagine how difficult it will be to retrofit a Casino into a hotel that wasn’t designed for gamming? What happens when we fill up all of our prime hotel real estate with hotels that are not Casinos and then realize that we made a mistake? How do we get our tourism product back?

      Managing a national economy, making the best use of our resources and opportunities is the job of government. In a fast world everything changes and our competitors define our options, not our politicians and not our religious leaders. These licenses should be part of every development package. If every developer can get one there is no favoritism and no huge fees for government. Remember we can not make long term economic survival decisions based on short term fee revenue needs. Time to pull our head out of the sand.

      • Dred says:

        Dart would have them done in no time trust me.

        I believe this is a pretty pathetic argument against.

        This is about diversification. Gambling Tourism like Medical Tourism is not the same in time frame. It's not tied to high season low season. This is tied simply to access.

        Witrh Children being out of school in summer we could easily see a big boost to out typical offseason loads.

        I believe that it is this shortsightedness and naivity that is going to be the death of us.

        Nothing and I mean NOTHING that gambling will bring is not here now except the money to our government coffers.

        You simply design it much the same way it is done in the Bahamas. If locals want to gamble make them BUY an EXPENSIVE license.

        For numbers people make them have to get a license. The revenue from the Gambling and Numbers would offset additional policing needed and a whole lot more.

        In addition we would see increases in almost every single sector of our economy. UDP wanted us to grow our numbers in Cayman well this is an excellent way to do just that.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You unleash gambling here, you unleash hell. Someone is going to get in way over their head and get desperate. Perhaps more than one. You play with fire, you get burned.Do you think God is asleep?

    • SSM345 says:

      00:27, gambling is already here in Cayman, alive and well in fact. There are raffles almost weekly for cars etc, there is also a "numbers game" played numerous times daily, and I almost forgot, there is something called the ineternet which allows online gambling!

      Bringing a casino that locals are not allowed to gamble at is pretty simple, look at the Bahamas resort called Atlantis.

      Locals may work, and infact make up 90% of the workforce there but they are not allowed to gamble and the authorities take it very seriously if they are in fact caught playing at a table.

      Why could that not be implemented here? Because we are a "Chrisitan Nation"? That excuse is worn out.

      It would bring that much needed development and PERMANENT EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES that are so badly needed down here.

      Our product is very limited if you hadn't noticed. Its time to follow the gravy train. And crime  rises yearly, mainly because the population grows yearly so the argument that our crime would get out of control because of a casino is bollocks.

      Our crime has been rising consistently since Ivan, and I do not seeing it getting any better to be frank, and you are kidding yourself much like Baines is trying to fool everyone.

      If Government doesn't want to build a physical casino, then start looking into virtual online gaming or online casino registration as an altenate.

      • Anonymous says:

        What is bollocks is the concept of unemployed Caymanians skipping off merrily to apply for hospitality trade jobs.  The majority don't want to entertain what are perceived to be subservient wages, so adding hundreds of these humble positions will not move the needle on unemployment.  The only exception is the construction side, which would briefly spike.  

      • Anonymous says:

        You know I lived next to a casino for years.  My life did not collapsie into a web of hell.  Why can't locals be allowed to gamble?  We can buy alcohol.  By your logic, locals should be allowed to work in bars but not buy alcohol.  If you think gambling is contrary to your religion then don't gamble.  But since free will is at the heart of christian thinking why would it be christian to deny people the option to exercise free will and decided whether to gamble or not?  Are you not sure that your congregation members walk the walk as well as talk the talk?

        • Dred says:

          It has little and nothing to actually do about the realisties and more to do with the fears.

          Let's justr say the first argument is always that people are going to gamble away their rent and social service will increase and police incidents will increase and only God knows what other crap they want to come up with. So to settle the matter we do not allow locals to gamble. I would make it a license they have to buy.

          • Anonymouse says:

            These are very real consequences of casino gambling whether you would like to believe it or not.

            There should be no place on this Island that Caymanians are not permitted to go.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hell is already here…..

      you can even send Postcards from there


    • Anonymous says:

      I would love if a casino opened in Cayman. I am not a big gambler, but, seriously…sometimes at night while on holiday in Cayman things can get a little ho-hum when all that is available is a bar or night club. A small casino would be fun.

    • Anonymous says:

      00.27…God never sleeps, apparently you have been for most of your life. This (Gambling) happens everywhere else…man has to contol his own desires from temptation…our Good Lord is not going to help with that.

  10. Anonymous says:

    bring it here asap!

    • Anonymous says:

      Calm down McKeeva.

    • Anonymous says:

      oh yes please…once again the other Island leads the way in things that matter

    • Anonymous says:

      Developers have a hard time closing roads, moving dumps, and dredging yacht basins here.

    • Anonymou says:

      don't hold your breath….we can't even dance past midnight on a saturday………

      welcome to wonderland….

  11. Anonymous says:

    As many pro-gambling islands in the Caribbean can tell you, there is quite a bit more to Bahamas' success story than simply legalising casinos.  It requires a sustained willingness to be pro-foreign business, and pro-expat.  It takes a long term cooperative vision, marketing support, and huge external private investment.  The convention business that Paradise Island has drawn from Florida requires substantial hotel accommodation and infrastructure, geographic proximity to entertainment and nightlife, and broad support from the government and community to allow things to happen in support of tourism product first and indigenous residents second.  Some might say the pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction.  The kind of blow-back you might expect to read in the Royal Gazette or Cayman Compass, Bahamian Immigration police have recently caught headlines for falsely cuffing and arresting valid work permit holders in Atlantis.  Unlike Bermuda or Cayman, those Immigration officials might not be at their posts the next day.

    • Anonymous says:

      "…there is quite a bitmore to Bahamas' success story than simply legalising casinos…"

      Bahamas is a success story?   

      • Anonymous says:

        Clearly, it is sighted as the template for success in the tourism sector, ignoring the other serious socioeconomic divides that do exist and are not necessarily correlated.

    • Anon says:

      With central government debt at 53% of GDP and unemployment at around 16% the Bahamas have greater financial and economic difficulties than Cayman. I don't know what "success story" you are talking about. Cayman is more pro-expat than the Bahamas ever was.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What odds are they offering on a “yes” vote?

  13. Anonymous says:

    but not here…not in wonderland…..

    • Dred says:

      For this we are stupid to not do it….

      I have said that this can be managed and can be an aide to the tourism sector which suffers from peaks and valleys…namely season and offseason…

      Too much pandering to the religious sector has always and will always be our downfall.

      I get being religious but I don't get being hypocrits….

      Numbers is gambling…..

      Rafflies is gambling…….


      Let's look at Sunday Trading….

      Hotel Bars can open and sell liquor….but you or I can not buy a bread for our family…Gas Stations can open…side stores can open but not major supermarkets…

      People it's time we come out of the stone age and face the real world….

      We need to diversify our product….We need more revenue sources….

      Casinos will bring in revenue, will create jobs, will jump start construction….will stabilize tourism if done righ such as having tournaments during summer time….will attract people with money….

      Cons….what cons…worried about people gambling? people doing it already….worried about drugs…too late there also…..we have the pitfalls without the prize….

      We need to look at this seriously…

      • noname says:

        You conveniently left out Casinos increase Crime and not just ordinary crime but lethal organized, mob type crime.  If people think the so called organized crime here is bad now, only a bunch of fools would allow it to get any worse by "legitimizing" it.

        Here is a thought, why not enforce the laws that are already on the books.  Shut down the illegal operations. That will force many that are wasting their money on illegal gaming to spend it on legitimate, legal outlets in Cayman, therefore providing a broader based boost to the economy rather than putting all of the money in to the hands of  a few illegal game operators.