The inability to gamble in port is seen as a major factor  behind decisions by cruise lines to cut back on Bermuda. *MCT photo
The inability to gamble in port is seen as a major factor behind decisions by cruise lines to cut back on Bermuda. *MCT photo
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FRIDAY, DEC. 30: Seven out of ten islanders believe cruise ships should be able to open their casinos while in port.

And just 17 per cent of the population completely oppose the idea, according to a Bermuda Omnibus Survey question commissioned by the Bermuda Sun.

The inability to gamble in port is seen by many experts as a major factor behind the decisions by cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Lines and Holland America to drastically cut back on Bermuda.

The survey’s findings come as mini-polls by MPs Charles and Kim Swan show support east and west for the provision of gambling in Bermuda.

MPs have consistently voted down moves to allow gambling here.

The latest Bermuda Omnibus Survey featured a question commissioned by the Bermuda Sun asking 400 residents whether they would support or oppose cruise ships opening their casinos for passengers while in port. The poll took place between December 10 and 19.

More than a third of those polled said they would ‘completely support’ the ships opening their casinos. While 69 per cent of those questioned would either completely support or mostly support cruise ships opening their casinos while in port.

This level of support was consistent across the population regardless of age, gender, income and race.

Buddy Rego, president of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, told the Sun he was not surprised by the survey’s findings.

He said: “Bermudians are looking at ways of being more open and improving our product to tourists.

“These are desperate times and maybe the more conservative approaches that have been favoured in previous times are being re-considered.

“This issue of cruise ships opening their casinos in port is something we will be putting to our members again in light of the changing climate and some of the feedback we have received.

“We want to see what their views on this topic are now.

“However it is not just as simple as saying whether these casinos should be opened or not opened in port. There are more questions of how it should be done, when it should be done and other circumstances that need to be considered too.”

Henry Hayward, chairman of Meyer group of companies, which acts as agent for most of the cruise ships that come into Bermuda, told the Sun that allowing the ships to open their casinos ‘made sense’.

He added: “I definitely believe that these ships should be allowed to open their casinos between 9pm or 10pm and 5am.

“That way it would not affect the local economy.

“Ninety per cent of passengers do not even go ashore during this period anyway. The cruise ships are one of the only things going for Bermuda at the moment and it’s vital to keep attracting them in.

“Allowing them to open their casinos for a defined period of time just makes good sense.”