Part I of II

I am absolutely opposed to organised gambling (casino gambling and slot machines) for Bermuda.

Bermudians must rise up and fight to prevent this menace from coming to our shores. The Premier has set up a committee to consider the feasibility of gambling for Bermuda. I disagree with any committee set up by the administration to consider such an important subject for Bermuda. Should gambling come to Bermuda our country will never be the same. The committee should have been set up by Parliament and it should have been a bipartisan committee. This is a very obvious case of the administration usurping Parliament's authority and it would appear the decision for gambling is being fast tracked.

Casino gambling will not contribute to the economic well being of Bermuda as the proponents would have  you believe. It will not rescue our tourist industry, nor will it help our retail shops. It will not create jobs for Bermudians. Gambling is a very narrow tourist market and Bermuda will be competing with forty-seven states who have casinos some of them two or three and not all of them successful. The proponents will say, 'aha but look at the Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, it is a very successful gambling casino that brings hundreds of tourists to the Bahamas every day'.

Trying to fool Bermudians

Here is where they really try to fool Bermudians. Atlantis is much more than just a gambling casino. It is a very comprehensive resort that has, in addition to a casino, very large attractions for families - especially children. It is also close enough to Florida where hundreds of people from mainland America (they call them day trippers) take boats over to the Bahamas daily and return that same day. Something Bermuda will never be able to do. Also, they do not tell you about the increase in murders in an area not too far away from Atlantis called 'Over the hill'. At the moment, even Atlantis' business is hurting. They are offering all kinds of bonuses, including free accommodation just to get people to come there. Incidentally, Costa Rica and a number of other Caribbean countries that had casinos have stopped casino gambling, claiming it is not good for their country.

Here is what casino gambling will do. It will bring an element to Bermuda that will inevitably increase our crime rate, which as everyone knows is very out of hand at present. I believe it will increase prostitution and drug use as it has done elsewhere and bring a negative element to our environment in which our children will have to grow up.

I am currently in Perth, Australia, and just last week there was a story in the local paper about the increase of raucous behaviour around the casino here. Fights, drug use and prostitution are rampant. There was a call for the casino to have more security guards on duty and more frequent police patrols.

The following is a plea from one Australian to the authorities in Florida, which reflects the sentiment of many Australians. It was sent to the Miami Herald last October:

" I am writing  from Australia. We were all promised increased revenue from new casinos  and slots. We were told the slots addiction especially would be very low. Sort  of OK we thought...because 'nothing can help those deviates anyway'. Thinking  back to what we thought we knew.. .we felt confident we could avoid problems.  How wrong we were! We have people hanging themselves in casino toilets,  housewives taking killer pills who have lost the family home while hubby is  working. Children left in a car in the hot sun to die while mom or  pop rush in the casino to satisfy their addiction, decent respectable  citizens suddenly turning into thieves from employers... too hooked on  slots and gambling tables to resist temptation. Our bankruptcy rules had  to be changed to 'hide the stats' and our coroner reports are most 'suspect'. Families being turned onto the streets with no assets left...divorces  from spouses who can take no more! We were conned. NOW our governments  are trying to ban the killer products that were brought by a 'helpful'  gambling industry. Be WARNED and check out Australia before you get [ripped-off]."

There are millions who identify with those remarks. It was sent to Miami because they were being pushed in Miami Beach to have a casino. So far they have not done so. It is to be hoped that Bermudians also push back.

In part II next week: An in-depth look at the reasons why casino gambling is no good for Bermuda.