*Photo by Don Burgess
*Photo by Don Burgess

Premier Michael Dunkley said the House will move forward in approving gambling for Bermuda and there was no need for a referendum.

Mr Dunkley made the comments after he, and Opposition Leader Marc Bean were handed a petition with more than 2,000 signatures asking the Government to hold a referendum on gambling.

He did thank petition organizers Cindy and Kim Swan and Jonathan Starling.

Mr Dunkley said: “This Government was elected to lead. This Government was elected to listen and to take advice from people and, after taking that advice, we have to make decisions.

“I can tell the people of Bermuda very clearly that we all know we’re in a real mess here in the island and we all know we need some strong leadership — we intend to provide that and move this island forward.

“There will be no turning back on the referendum. We’ve got to move forward.”

He thanked the organizers for presenting the petition.

Organizer and independent candidate Mr Starling said: “Strong leadership, for a democracy, is sticking to your promises.”

Mr Starling said it “was hard work” to get the 2,000+ signatures and verifying that they were all from registered voters.

He added: “Vetting the signatures was a mammoth task” and we could not have done it without volunteers.

Mr Starling said other signatures have yet to be verified so the number will go higher once that is accomplished.

“In a democracy you get the democracy the people want. If the people hold the Government accountable, then the Government has to be accountable.”

He said when electoral promises fall by the wayside for expediency there becomes a “deficit of trust”.

He hoped that new Premier Dunkley would revisit the issue of the referendum.

Fellow organizer Mr Swan, former leader of the United Bermuda Party, said the whole fiasco over JetGate and casino gambling has proven “this whole exercise hasn’t been a waste of time”.

He said the people who signed the petition are from a ‘wide cross-section” of the island.

“Democracy has taken place here. What has taken place in expediency has injured this country’s reputation. I urge the new Premier and his Cabinet have a re-think on this whole issue of casino gaming.”

Mr Bean also thanked the organizers.

He said that on December 13, 2013, when the Government announced there would be no referendum, “the people of this country had that democratic right stolen from them. The Government has no intention of restoring democracy to the people of this country.”

Mr Bean said there politicians on both sides of the aisle who support casino gambling “but we cannot have political expediency and the robbing of democracy to get to that goal. A house built on sand will surely fall at some point and time.”