ships can run casinos while in Bermuda ports
Cruise ships will be allowed to
open late-night casinos in port after Cabinet
approved a plan aimed at fighting off increasing
competition from rival cruise destinations.
Opposition United Bermuda Party last night attacked
the move, which it said had been made without
any public consultation and would open the door
to gambling on the Island.
and Tourism Minister Ewart Brown announced the
decision in the House of Assembly on Friday as
one of a number of alterations to cruise ship
Premier said ships would now be allowed to open
bars and signature shops and "provide full
entertainment inclusive of the opening of casinos
after 10 p.m. while in port".
said cruise lines would in return be required
to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars
to on-Island activities such as the Bermuda Music
Festival and Harbour Nights.
over gambling has long divided the Island, with
the AME Church recently condemning the controversial
casino ship Niobe Corinthian which came to Bermuda
and the Seventh-day Adventist Church hitting out
against poker games which were being played in
Leader Kim Swan said in a statement released last
night: "The United Bermuda Party is extremely
concerned the Brown Government has allowed gambling
in Bermuda without any public consultation whatsoever.
Brown's statement in the House of Assembly that
his Government will allow cruise ship casinos
to operate while in port says he would rather
bypass than engage the public on the matter.
Bermudians should be concerned about such a development,
and ask themselves if they prefer not to have
any say in Government decisions; particularly
ones that may well impact the future. Make no
mistake: Dr. Brown's decision opens the door to
gambling in Bermuda.
is a highly controversial issue among Bermudians
and the public should have been consulted prior
to any decision on the matter.
Brown's rationale for the decision could well
have provided the basis for a constructive public
debate, but it is clear he would prefer to govern
by edict than to bother with the views of the
decision raises legal issues since Bermuda outlaws
gaming houses. It also raises the question of
double-standards since the Government moved aggressively
a few years ago to shut down the use of gaming
machines around the Island."
Premier Alex Scott, who vigorously opposes gambling
on moral grounds, pushed through legislation to
outlaw the Island's 300-plus gaming machines in
groups hoped Mr. Scott's successor Dr. Brown would
bring a more relaxed attitude, and have pointed
to the Premier's participation in overseas poker
tournaments, including his much-criticised recent
appearance at a gambling tournament at the notorious
Los Angeles Playboy Mansion.
games played by hundreds of people in Bermuda's
bars were suspended last year after Police raised
concerns they could break gambling laws.
Friday, Dr. Brown said a review of cruise industry
trends concluded that Bermuda was losing its competitive
edge attracting cruise ships, especially the smaller
premium ships capable of docking in Hamilton and
blamed this partly on increased competition from
other summer destinations such as the Mediterranean
and the Baltica and high operating costs in Bermuda.
he added: "The common practice of prohibiting
on-board revenue from shops, professional entertainment
and casinos while ships are docked in Bermuda
is also contributing to Bermuda's loss of competitive
combined effect of increased competition and restricting
on-board revenue sources has resulted in cruises
to Bermuda being substantially less profitable
when compared to Europe."
well as allowing casinos on cruise ships, Cabinet
has also approved a proposal to waive the $14
cabin tax for Hamilton and St. George's for three
years from 2009.
Brown said Norwegian Cruise Line has committed
to pay $150,000 a year to the Bermuda Music Festival
and provide entertainers for Harbour Nights in
Hamilton, produce an on-Island dining brochure
distributed to all its cruise guests, and donate
a total of $275,000 to the Bermuda Heritage Museum
and St. George's Foundation.
are underway with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
the deal as a "win-win", the Premier
added: "With this programme we are confident
that we will attract the smaller, premium ships
to Hamilton and St. George's which will assist
the economy of both ports and provide additional
Mr. Swan responded: "We are not convinced
of the Premier's argument that cruise ship casinos
on Front Street will improve Bermuda's nightlife.
It seems to us that the whole idea of keeping
cruise ship casinos open is to keep cruise ship
passengers on board instead of visiting local
are further concerned that cruise ships are driving
public policy and not the people of Bermuda. In
the past few years, Dr. Brown has shifted millions
of dollars of public money for the development
of the Dockyard cruise ship pier, in response
to an industry trend and without any public debate.
that case, as in this decision on gambling in
Bermuda, we are not convinced all options were
thoroughly investigated before decisions were
made. It appears more and more to us that the
Tourism Ministry has become the personal fiefdom
of the Premier to manage as he, and he alone,
sees fit. Bermuda is bigger than this."
Casinos on the high seas, with nowhere to escape
the pokes from. Now that's what I call a perfect
mousetrap, and I know a thing or two about casinos
and gaming, both of the traditional and online
variety. Reminds me of some of Richard Branson's
plans for casinos and gaming on his airlines.
When customers can't get away from the machines,
that's when the gaming operator makes real money.
Bottom line, if you have internet access, there's
plenty of places to have a flutter for real money,
and you don't need an in house casino to do it.
I'm going to look at setting up a travel operation
in Bermuda with both a traditional casino, and
an online one. You can bet on that.