Snake Eyes

‘In gambling, snake eyes is the outcome of rolling the dice in a game and getting only one pip on each die. The pair of pips resembles a pair of eyes, which is appended to the term ‘snake’ because of the long-standing association of this word with treachery and betrayal... In modern parlance, it refers to such a roll in any game involving dice... Snake eyes also refers to looking one way and passing the ball the other way in the game of Taps.’

Wikipedia


T
he critical thing that should be noticed in the OBA’s recent referendum statements is that they’ve practically made no mention that they’ve repeatedly approached the Opposition about bypassing the referendum (or refuted the PLP claim). 

By failing to disclose this fact they have effectively misled the voter by pretending that they were in full support of having a referendum and would have done so if not for the PLP’s alleged attempts to undermine it.  This lack of transparency speaks volumes about the honesty of the OBA, and it is a stain upon their first year in power. 

I do have some sympathy for the Premier letting two of his Ministers listen to a private conversation if it was strategically necessary. 

What I have absolutely no sympathy for is the OBA revealing that this was done in an attempt to score points during a heated debate while the Opposition Leader wasn’t present.  This kind of behaviour not only poisons the political climate further, but simultaneously undermines our credibility as a business jurisdiction. 

No investor wants to hear that a sensitive phone call with a Minister might not be private, or that private comments might get repeated in the House of Assembly for political purposes.

The OBA claims that a threat was made; however, Marc Bean claims to have told the Premier that, “by bringing a ‘loaded’ question, the OBA will create a protest vote by those who ordinarily would vote in favour of gaming”. 

But what really happened on that phone call? Did the OBA turn the PLP’s statement into a threat or did the PLP change their threat into a statement? Without any proof of a threat, the OBA should have reversed their position purely on the basis of economic urgency and not attempted to blame the PLP.  If anything, the OBA should have concluded the phone call and publicly requested the PLP’s position should the OBA not amend the referendum question.  

By failing to be transparent about their appetite for a referendum, and betraying the Opposition Leader’s trust, the OBA have effectively doubled-down on the damage done to their own credibility and Bermuda’s prospects as an investment opportunity.  The consequences are therefore not as simple as he said/she said. 

Let’s shift gears now. Getting the referendum question right should really be about ensuring that Bermuda doesn’t get gaming wrong. Love it, or hate it, the question did at least imply that the OBA is only considering gambling as a tourist product, and therefore an earner of foreign revenue at casinos in hotels. My assumption from the question is that they don’t want gambling available everywhere, thereby potentially increasing socioeconomic problems. This intent should be respected.

With this thought in mind, we should consider the following from the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation website: “An Economic Empowerment Zone (EEZ) is a geographical area that has been designated by law as such, and one that is targeted for social, economic, physical and spiritual development.” 

How ironic it is that while the PLP is castigating the OBA over the referendum question, the leader of the Opposition has now disclosed an interest in a new betting business on Court Street!  

The problem isn’t “black entrepreneurship”, as some PLP supporters are claiming.  The question is how exactly does the increase of gaming options (especially during an economic crisis) increase the social, economic, physical and spiritual development of North Hamilton?  The greatest concern is that these types of businesses do the exact opposite, especially in lower income areas.

Let’s cut right to the bone for a moment. If a white person, especially one aligned with the OBA, had set up a betting business in ‘Backatawn’, there would be no shortage of moral outrage over whites coming into black areas to exploit economically-disadvantaged people. 

There would be outrage over economic equality and empowerment of black people if a white person attempted such a thing.  

Yet, here we have complete silence from those who constantly protest about black empowerment and the evils of the “OBAUBP”.  

We’re here kicking and screaming about the changing of the referendum question, while tacitly agreeing with (or defending) the increase of gambling in an economic empowerment zone by the leader of the Progressive Labour Party. 

In my view it’s absolutely ridiculous that the PLP and their core supporters are so “concerned” and “disturbed” by the OBA’s recent actions while having no issue whatsoever with the increase of gambling in North Hamilton.

Fundamentally, I have no problem with the OBA or PLP changing their positions on having a referendum. 

The real leadership issue at hand is having the fortitude to change your mind, the wisdom to take full responsibility for it and not being duplicitous throughout the entire process. 

bryanttrew@mac.com