A model for Bermuda? The Marina Bay Sands Casino in Singapore. *Creative commons photo
A model for Bermuda? The Marina Bay Sands Casino in Singapore. *Creative commons photo

Government’s attempt to implement casino gambling is ill-conceived and badly thought out, according to political activist Jonathan Starling.

Mr Starling’s claims come after Government wrote to hoteliers asking whether they would be interested in having a casino on their property.

The letter, a copy of which was leaked to the Bermuda Sun, was sent out on January 17 to ‘gauge interest’ for casinos in the hotel industry.

Mr Starling, who recently started a petition for a referendum on the gaming question, told the Bermuda Sun he had several concerns about the letter and the way it was written.

He said: “I find it odd that, while the letter says the Government has done ‘extensive research’, that they are only now in consultation with hoteliers.

“Furthermore, it seems decidedly strange that the Government is consulting with hoteliers on the one hand while breaking their election promise of consulting with the electorate through a referendum on the issue of casino gambling.

Mr Starling added: “I also have some concerns about the way the letter is written; it’s biased in a similar way to the OBA’s previous proposal for the now-cancelled referendum question.

“It appears designed to allow the Government to go to their proposed town hall meetings and say ‘See, we have these letters of interest from the hoteliers’, as if it’s some desperate attempt to further justify their undemocratic decision to abandon the referendum.

“While the petition for a referendum on casino gambling remains neither for or against casino gambling itself, the entire process by which the Government has first proposed a biased question, then abandoned the referendum, and now appears to have failed to really conduct extensive research until the last minute — well, it just doesn’t seem well thought out or properly conducted.”

The letter from the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport asks for feedback from hoteliers by the end of January.

But it maintains that its request for a letter of interest will by no means commit hoteliers or Government.

It states: “We are at a point in the process whereby we wish to gauge interest from hotel properties who may wish to be granted a licence to operate a casino in their property.

“After extensive research Government has adopted the Integrated Resort Casino Model which would allow a casino licence to be granted to hotels or any hotel development.

“The Government will establish policies concerning the number of hotel properties that will be granted a casino licence and the criteria to be used for selection for casino operators.

“Within that context we are requesting a letter of interest from each hotel to determine at this early stage if your hotel is interested in having a casino on your property.

“This request by no means commits your hotel or the Government, but will enable us to at least gauge your interest.” n