Followup to the Report on 'Gaming'

The Gazette editorial that discussed aspects of the Green Paper on 'Gaming' covers a few of the issues I had with the content of the report.

Namely, the tie-in of 'gaming' with tourism as a whole. If the point of the discussion was solely on tourism, then there's absolutely no need for national lotteries to be investigated. No tourist, whether from the United States or elsewhere, is going to visit Bermuda in order to buy damn lottery tickets.

If they want to discuss lotteries, then it should be discussed not from a tourism aspect but a national revenue aspect, and the potential social issues, cut and dry. Like I've said ad nauseam over the years however, we already have at least one national lottery in place, it's just under a different name.

This aspect of the research was a complete waste of time and money if the goal was to evaluate the tourism benefit of 'gaming'.

Internet gambling as well. How is someone who plays online poker for example, with funds raised going to Bermudian business, suddenly considered in any form a contributor to tourism?

It's a situation that could have been prevented by making the research more about raising money for Bermuda and Bermudians alone instead of this tourism angle. Keep it about casinos (and perhaps looking into hosting international events like World Series of Poker tournaments) and this report makes a ton more sense.

Here's the kicker that many political pundits and commentators are probably looking into with regard to the casino in town, it's on Page 19 of the report (the pdf as viewed in Acrobat Reader, page 9 of the report as printed out):
Allow an independent casino to be developed to accommodate locals and tourists seeking a larger, more energetic gaming environment. This property would likely be larger and, not being in a hotel, would likely attract the majority of the local patronage. The property would also appeal to tourists seeking a gaming
experience that are not staying at hotels offering casinos as well as hotel guests that may seek larger casinos that typically feature more energetic environments. We have identified this situation as a possible stand-­alone casino in downtown Hamilton.
Let the rumours begin on where such a development could be situated in 'downtown Hamilton'. Two areas right off the bat, can be guessed at. Page 24 (page 14) gives you the added hints on location (shh, waterfront).

I like that they covered what they call 'Ambient machines' in the report as well. These of course, are commonly known as the 'one arm bandits' that used to be available locally until they were banned in 2005. These are common features of certain kinds of casinos, and one would think that if they were allowed to exist in any new casino that the current crop of bars and restaurants that once had them would immediately call for the law to be repealed to avoid the perceived hypocrisy of the situation. The report itself suggests that these 'machines' aren't recommended, mind you.

My issues with the whole debate on the social issues surrounding 'gaming' (and really, I'm tired of quoting 'gaming', so I'll use the real term - gambling - going forward) is that Bermuda already has an abundance of real gambling avenues, and it's only antiquated laws that say that gambling of one form is perfectly fine while another is abhorrent and vile.

The list of social issues in the report is: crime, burglary and related, loan sharks, crimes at casinos, prostitution, bankruptcy, suicide, family impact, child abuse, homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence and divorce. These already exist on the island, some in greater quantity than others. And if you wish to tie these to the people who already go to Seahorses or GameTime every day to place wagers on horse racing or European football pools, then shut them down.

What I hope for, in the end, is that the current laws relating to gambling be reviewed and restructured where applicable, and this is without the use of the Green Paper recommendations. There are some outdated, and in some cases, nonsensical, provisions in there. I hope that the powers that be address them along with their decisions on allowing casinos to set up shop.

1 comment:

Onion said...

Gambling absolutely has to be 100% illegal for locals to do in their own home.

Tourist casino, fine. Local casinos ruin lives.