Bermuda lost out on a huge opportunity when MPs flatly dismissed the Green Paper on Gaming, according to Premier Dr. Ewart Brown.

Dr. Brown felt the issue descended into “internal party politics” rather than a robust debate on gaming.

And he said he was disappointed with the way the proposals to legalize gaming were received.

Dozens of MPs spoke out against the Premier’s Green Paper on Gaming during the heated debate in May saying it should not even be discussed in the present climate.

But the Premier told the Sun he believed lessons could be learnt from countries like South Africa where high-class gaming had successfully boosted tourism and increased revenue.

He added: “I was obviously disappointed by the way the Green Paper on Gaming turned out.

“What was meant to be just a green paper turned into more of an exercise of internal party politics.

“That detracted from the very point of the debate.

“I believe Bermuda lost a huge opportunity when this was done.”

He added: “I am still hopeful that maybe in the future the legislature might do something on gaming.

“I recently saw how South African casinos operated and how people in that country understand that it is part of what is on offer to people who live in the country as well as visitors.”

Meanwhile, a Bermuda Sun poll has revealed that 58 per cent of the population would support holding a referendum on gaming.

Residents were asked to what extent they would support or oppose the idea of a referendum on gaming.

The poll also revealed that nearly half of white individuals were more likely to support a referendum on gaming compared with 27 per of black residents.

Younger residents were more likely to oppose holding a referendum than those in the 35 to 55-year-old age bracket.

The results were provided to the Bermuda Sun by Total Research Associates Limited. The research consisted of telephone interviews with a representative sample of 404 Bermuda residents conducted between June 3 and 14, 2010. A sample of this size drawn from the population provides results accurate to within plus or minus 4.9 percent in 19 out of 20 samples.

Dr. Brown spoke to the Sun just after it was announced he would be vacating his Warwick South Central seat when he steps down as Premier in October.

He said: “The decision is tinged with sadness but it was not a hard decision to make.

Constituency politics

“The decision to step down as Premier and as an MP goes hand in hand for me.

“I did not want to hang around and deprive a young person of the opportunity to serve the constituency.”

He told the Sun he was proud of his achievements in Warwick over the 17 years he held the seat.

Dr. Brown added: “I remember being pleasantly surprised when I was able to eke out a 14 vote victory against Sir Jack Sharpe in 1993.

“That was my first formal foray into politics. Over the years I have been immensely honoured to serve the people of Warwick.

“I have tried to stay in touch with the community with the help of a tremendous support team.

“I think the focus has always been on roads and lighting in Warwick and we have tried to deliver in these areas.

“We have improved parks and playground facilities and the annual Turkey Giveaway we brought in is one of the most popular events of the year in the constituency now.

“Constituency politics is the life blood of Bermuda and I believe I have maintained a strong relationship with the community.” n