Casinos Within Five Years
Bermuda will have casinos within five years, an expert on gambling
predicted to the Chamber of Commerce yesterday.
Lyall Hall, a partner with KPMG in Toronto who has worked on casino
projects around the world, based his assessment on the huge growth in
gambling across the world, particularly North America.
He told the Chamber general meeting that the worst predictions that
gambling would bring increased crime and addiction had not been
realised in other places where casinos had been introduced.
And if properly regulated, gambling had a positive effect on
jurisdictions, he said.
"I haven’t come here to say that gaming is good or bad for Bermuda,"
said Mr. Hall.
"But I am prepared to make a prediction: it will be here in five
"All one really needs to do is look at the speed with which this
entertainment alternative has taken hold in other jurisdictions.
"From three full service casinos generating less than $500 million in
Canada just ten years ago to 75 casinos or racinos (race tracks with
slot machines) with revenues of $6 billion today.
"Ten years ago in the US casinos or racinos were permitted in just two
states. Today, 25 offer casino gaming with at last ten states looking
seriously at introducing them.
"And look around the world. The UK is undergoing the most
comprehensive changes to gaming policy in 100 years.
"Thailand, Morocco, Egypt and Malaysia are flirting with casinos of
varying sizes and in various circumstances. And what about Mexico and
Cuba, speaking of the impact on tourism in your region and the
potential to siphon off American and Canadian visitors.
"Casino gambling is here to stay. I am not saying it is a good thing
or a bad thing," said Mr. Hall, the keynote speaker at the Chamber’s
annual general meeting in the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.
"But it is a reality and I suspect if we were standing here in Bermuda
ten years from now, we will wonder what all the fuss was about – a
situation not unlike what’s happened in any mature gambling
"Gambling is not a panacea that can solve fiscal, tourism or
"But used correctly, with the proper controls and regulations in place
and with clear objectives and supporting policies on revenue sharing,
it can have a positive impact."
Chamber president Charles Gosling said after the speech that the
Chamber didn’t have a position on gambling.
But Bermuda needed to make an informed decision about casinos and
Government should consider it if Hamilton waterfront is transformed
and when Morgan’s Point is developed.
"Our job is not to predict whether gaming will happen or not and it
was never our position to throw this into the political arena like
some form of challenge," Mr. Gosling told The Royal Gazette.
"Our job was to open up the subject of gaming by having a presentation
on the issue and to receive advice on how Bermuda can do its due
diligence and come up with an educated decision, not one determined by
anecdotes or prejudiced point of view."
The Progressive Labour Party Government introduced a ban on slot
machines, but it has said it will not take an official position for
the moment on other gambling.
The United Bermuda Party has stated it is willing to consider casinos,
although it does not believe them to be a "silver bullet".
In response to a question, Mr. Hall said as a rough estimate, a casino
in Bermuda – if the calculation was based on 60,000 residents and
300,000 air arrivals – could generate around $110 million a year.
But he warned that because of the competition from other jurisdictions
– Atlantis in Bahamas spends $30 million each year in free rooms and
food and drinks for gamblers – simply building a casino was not a
guarantee of success.