It's one thing for a ­government to look for ways to get funds, quite ­another to sell the soul of its people in the process.

This ­selling of the soul on casinos ­began with the hiring of known gambling proponents to study and make recommendations on gambling for Bermuda.

Even the sleight-of-tongue to call gambling "gaming" and slot ­machines "ambient ­machines" sends a signal - it looks like we're going to be misled again.

Proponents of gambling gloss over the social costs of introducing a large-scale, addiction-prone activity to the island.

They assert that the ­income from gambling will more than cover the costs of counselling, rehabilitation, extra policing and the machinery of prosecution and incarceration.

They have little to say about the rips to the ­island's social fabric from broken families, squandered pay cheques, lost work hours, petty and not-so-petty theft, corruption and the plethora of social ills that accompany organized gambling.

Thinking about addictions in Bermuda, it would not hurt to look at our ­success in handling alcohol and other drugs.

Let's face it, we aren't ­doing so well dealing with the addictions we have ­already identified.

I don't have much faith we'll have the smarts or ­derive the political will to confront gambling any ­better than we now ­confront consumption of alcohol or other drugs.

Proponents of gambling describe their activity as entertainment - so do ­proponents of dog and cock-fighting. These types of activity differ markedly but the ­attempts to sanitise them are no different.

The method is the same - grab the pay cheque and run.

Is gambling really a ­problem? Gambling can be made to look relatively ­innocent when it is merely the subject of argument.

"Social" gamblers often promote their own ­restrained behaviour as the norm, implying that ­regulations ought to be based on their respectable gambling habits.

But social problems ­affecting the entire community inevitably follow.

As examples, bankruptcies, family break-ups, ­domestic abuse and ­suicides have been found to increase wherever casino and slot-machine gambling enters a community.

In addition, burglary, ­robbery, bad cheques, loan-sharking and other crimes always increase dramatically when casinos and slots come to town.


The reality is gambling represents potentially large amounts of money - and large amounts of money seem always to attract less than scrupulous characters and oft times corrupt those that do have scruples.

According to the organisation NOcasiNO out of Maryland, political corruption is rampant in states ­receiving revenue from casinos.

More importantly, ­casinos and gambling ­machines are often a ­convenient front for organised crime to launder ­money from other activities, such as drugs and prostitution.

Corruption and crime are known ­aspects of casinos and ­gambling we seem ill-­prepared to cope with.

And while proponents ­often predict large windfalls of tourists and cash from the introduction of casinos and slot machines, these activities often ­"cannibalise" the economy of a community, cutting into the profits of existing restaurants and retail ­businesses.

The worst addiction, however, is that the government can become addicted to gambling revenues, as has already happened here with revenues from taxing alcohol and cigarettes - we can't do without them.

What we know is that gambling is the fastest growing form of addiction among U.S. teens, women and senior citizens.

What we don't know is how to put that genie back in the bottle once it is let loose.

It's time to speak up. Our leaders will say your silence on this issue is ­consent.

Make sure they don't get the wrong message.