Kim Swan *File photo
Kim Swan *File photo

FRIDAY, DEC. 9: A poll on gambling carried out by an MP has found a large majority in favour of casinos on the island.

A total of 62 per cent were in favour of allowing gambling, while 22 per cent said no and 15 per cent were undecided.

The survey, which has yet to be completed, is being carried out in the St George’s West constituency of the UBP’s Kim Swan.

Mr Swan said he had already surveyed around 7 per cent of voters in the area, where 1,257 were registered to vote at the last General Election.

Mr Swan said: “The survey is on-going, but the results are a bit of a surprise so far. The economy is having a lot to do with it.

“The percentage of “maybes” probably came from the “no” category, which would have made the results so far a little closer.

“There used to be far more people against gaming in Bermuda.”

Mr Swan added the results so far had been carried out in around 60 per cent of the streets in the area.

He added: “Such a large percentage of ‘yes’ votes is coming from concern about the economy. One interesting comment that a senior made was that the profits should be used to fund the cost of health care for seniors.

“It’s my duty, on such an important issue, to raise awareness in the constituency and to gauge the sentiment.”

Mr Swan said the numbers in the survey so far were relatively small, around 80 households, although they often contained more than one voter.

But he pointed out that national surveys often involved only around 400 to 600 people, a much smaller number in percentage terms.

Mr Swan said he was not against a national referendum on the issue of gambling — but that people needed to make an informed decision after tourism experts had had their say.

But he said: “When it comes to tourism, we can’t have knee-jerk reactions. I honestly feel a Tourism Authority is what Government needs to do first.

“That’s something that would put the industry in control of tourism. The industry should drive the decisions which need to be made.

“We also have to weigh up the negative things that come along with gaming, like the potential for social problems caused by people becoming addicted.

“We have to look at the Bahamas model, where residents are not allowed to use casinos. That was probably required in the Bahamas at that time and Bermuda needs to look at that.

“I wouldn’t be against a referendum, but I would let all of that be driven by an independent Tourism Authority.

“Things would move quicker and it would be much less politicized than it is at present.”