Party time: Could gambling bring excitement and new revenue streams here? *iStock photo
Party time: Could gambling bring excitement and new revenue streams here? *iStock photo
<
1
2
>

Glenn Bean has heard and read about the pros and cons of gambling in Bermuda. But he has never seen a plan of how it might work here — so he drew one up. A former Director of Tourism, he now lives in Atlanta where he works in property management. Government could hold a referendum on gambling in Bermuda as early as this year. In the meantime, Mr Bean offered some food for thought.   



A
s a former Director with the Bermuda Department of Tourism, it has become increasingly difficult to stand by and watch the abyss of what was once the driving force behind a booming economy — tourism.

Like many of you, I have fond, and rather proud, memories of our beloved island that topped the preferred list of many of the vacationing elite and those travellers who dared to dream.

And yet today, aircraft return to Bermuda daily, often filled with locals, but seats assigned to visitors pale in comparison.

Although economies are suffering around the world from the global financial crisis that devastated communities, many tourism destinations have managed to maintain a level of consistency due to innovative initiatives.

It is time for Bermuda to transition from “business as usual” and consider options, some drastic, in order to the bridge the gap that threatens the total collapse of our tourism industry.

It is time to liberalize Bermuda’s gaming laws in order to create a winter escape from November through March.

Gambling is a universal phenomenon that thrives in places like Las Vegas, Atlantic City, the Bahamas and on the cruise lines.

More and more casinos operate as multimillion-dollar businesses, glowing with all of the amenities, first class services, and extras that have redefined the best in resorts, and those who frequent casinos do so for entertainment beyond the act of gambling. Many casinos provide customers with a vast array of shows and other forms of entertainment on the side, including spa services, that make the gambling a true luxury vacation experience — of the kind that many a traveller expected while vacationing in Bermuda in the past.

While the benefit to the traveller is obvious, the rewards to the country, through substantial gaming taxes, and the residents of Bermuda are also tremendous.

There is no tourist destination that represents the marriage between gambling and tourism better than Las Vegas, Nevada.

Residents of the world’s biggest gambling destination have benefitted tremendously as casinos have proven to be a great source of employment, with more than 60 per cent of jobs casino-based.

Whether it is a casino floor, corporate or hotel position, the potential for the employment of Bermudians is broad and would including marketing, sales, accounting, human resources, security, dealers, hosts, management, investigators, surveillance officers, restaurant staff, entertainment on every level — the list goes on.

In this debate, many tend to focus on the high social and economic costs of gaming to families, and express approval of the Bahama’s gaming institution that restricts locals from participating.

I, however, feel strongly that liberalizing Bermuda’s gaming laws to include casino gambling should be open to the residents of Bermuda whom, I might add, have contributed to the economies of some of world’s largest gambling cities that apply restrictions.

To participate, all resident must qualify for a gambling licence based on age, credit, financial and criminal background. Residents cannot be delinquent in home mortgages, rents, bank loans, government tax, must maintain an appropriate debt to income ratio and cannot be a convicted felon.

In addition, residents should not be allowed to invest in casinos, as it presents severe conflicts of interest in regards to legislation and regulation.

To conclude, we have an obligation to turn our focus on saving a dying industry.

 It is my opinion that a healthy option would be the liberalization of Bermuda’s gaming laws to include casino gambling for our guest from October through March, making Bermuda a year-round destination in line with our competitors.

With the limited gambling season, we preserve our core season for key clientele: those who love our pink sands. 

With countless failed attempts to attract new hotel development, with the last large property, Southampton Princess, having been built in 1975, it is clear that the country must consider a more modern product to market: a casino destination. 

This is an opportunity for all Bermudians to benefit, and for the star to shine again on our lovely island. 

What do you think? Seasonal gambling a good idea? Residents must apply for a licence? Hotel casinos obliged to provide year-round entertainment? E-mail your feedback to editor Tony McWilliam: tmcwilliam@bermudasun.bm 



Glenn Bean’s vision of gambling in Bermuda

No “Off-Season”

What:

• Golf-spa-gaming season

• Seasonal gaming: unique gaming structure for Bermuda

When:

• November through March (Rendezvous Season)

Why:

• To assist in developing Bermuda as a year-round destination

• To address the severe seasonal dips

• Gaming not subject to Bermuda’s November through March weather pattern

Where:

• Bermuda’s hotels/guest accommodations

How:

• Bermuda vacation accommodations to apply for licence and registration to offer gaming on site

• Give the option to hotels to hire appropriate casino/gaming production companies

• Hotels to meet specs to facilitate a gaming operation

• Hotels to ensure appropriate security and monitoring

• All hotels that offer full casino gaming must offer entertainment proportionate to international levels

• Entertainment to include Bermuda’s talent and culture

• Gaming to include Crown & Anchor to infuse the Bermuda culture

• Bermuda to have a quasi Vegas-Monaco feel (not all glitz, but full of glamour and entertainment)

 


Protecting Bermuda

• Legislation to fit Bermuda’s cultural and social expectations

• Bermuda Gaming Commission is responsible for:

— Regulation and monitoring of the gaming industry

— The issuance of licences to hotels/vacation accommodations for gaming

— The issuance of licence to Bermuda residents who gamble at gaming facilities

— Monitoring of gaming facilities to ensure adherence to legislation, registration, licensing, training, staffing and reporting of revenues

— Watchdog for ancillary illegal activities (loan sharks, prostitution, drugs and so on)


Protecting Bermuda’s social and economic structure

• All residents must qualify to gamble; resident approval based on age, credit, financial and criminal background check

• Residents cannot be delinquent in home mortgages, home rents, car loans, government tax and must maintain an appropriated debt-to-income ratio

• No licence for any resident with a felony

• Approved residents to receive a gaming licence/ID card

• Residents to apply for gaming licence that is renewable on an annual basis

• Eligible and age appropriate island visitors/tourists to be issued a gaming card from hotels and to present passport upon gaining entry to the casino

How Bermuda benefits from gaming

• Bermuda dramatically broadens its entertainment offerings

• Bermuda benefits via incremental tax revenues

• Bermuda attracts new hotel investment

• All Bermuda stakeholders benefit: Government revenues, taxi drivers, construction workers, local entertainers, hotel workers and retail outlets

• Provides new employment and career opportunities for Bermudians

• In essence, it introduces a third economic pillar to the Bermuda economy

1. International Business

2. Tourism

3. Gaming

 


Seasonal benefits (November - March Gaming)

• Allows Bermuda to be a year-round destination

• Assists current hotels to realize profits year-round

• Preserves Bermuda’s core summer season for key clientele: sun & surf, rest & relaxation, family fun

• Prevents casino-cruises from further competing with, and negatively impacting upon, summer hotel vacations

• Quick turnaround: hotels can convert gala and dining spaces to accommodate seasonal gaming

Limit gaming licensing & registration to hotels: benefits

• Lessens traffic and ground transportation stresses

• Allows hotels to generate incremental revenues and ultimately be more profitable

• Attracts new hotel development to the island (last major hotel built was the Southampton Princess 1975)

• Allows hotels to customize gaming facilities and offerings to their customer demographic and expectations. For example: some hotels may offer all-casino games whilst smaller accommodations could limit offers to black-jack or slot machines

Prohibit resident investment in local gaming facilities

• Residents should not be allowed to invest in casinos as it will present severe conflicts of interests as it pertains to legislation and regulation

• Conflicts of interest can occur with public officials, politicians, government employees and casino employees

• Without this proviso there would be no way to limit or prohibit government officials or the family thereof — to invest in local gaming institutions — thereby opening the doorway to corruption.

Not to mention Bermudians who would work at the facilities, Government workers, police/law enforcers (judges, lawyers, and so on)

• Resident investment could open gateways to strong arming and bribery of regulators, public officials and workers

Brain trust for gaming – key stakeholders for developing gaming

• Required Government ministries, departments and legislators

• Bermuda Department of Tourism

• Bermuda Alliance for Tourism

• Bermuda Hotel Association

• Bermuda Tourism Board

• Bermuda Chamber of Commerce

• Marketing (Tourism) Agency of Record

• Industry Consultant(s)

• Public Forums.