Gambling referendum, keeping it on the front burner

In another display of 'people power', a group of individuals have officially called upon the ruling Government to change their plan to directly go ahead with legislation for casino gambling, instead putting the vote to the people via referendum (and thus returning to their original election pledge).

Let the parallels between this, the petition to keep the Lambe-Foggo clinic open, the Concerned Bermudians group that organised a march regarding the terms limit policy, and other groups that have served as a sort of pressure group, begin.

The group has launched their website and are ready to go.

Here's a summary of the government's dealings with regard to legislating casino-style gambling:

1. OBA election manifesto promises to put the issue of legalising gambling to a referendum vote.
2. OBA wins election.
3. A year passes, during which Govt ministers talk about gambling a bit, and are involved (both normally and controversially) with potential stakeholders in a gambling product.
4. Nearly 12 months later, word comes out that the OBA has suggested as a referendum question, a very suggestive and loaded one meant to encourage a 'yes' vote instead of being neutral in wording. Naturally, everybody expressed concern.
5. With the choice of rewording, revamping or even going full steam ahead with the referendum question before them, Government comes out with a "threat to disrupt" argument and decides to forego the referendum entirely, putting all blame on the PLP and ignoring the outcry from unaffiliated persons.

In a nutshell, the OBA took 12 months to come up with a referendum question, they were challenged on the wording of it, so they said screw it. That action has served to upset at least a decent portion of the voting community.

And thus, a collection of people are taking it upon themselves to try to lobby the government to honour their original promise to the people and call for a (fair) referendum on the issue of gambling (casino, but perhaps also other forms as well).

Will this particular incarnation cause the intended effect or will it become a "This too shall pass" moment? Shaping up to be an intriguing and critical January for Bermuda, I think.

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