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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 years.
"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 destination.
"Gambling is not a panacea that can solve fiscal, tourism or development issues.
"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.

Read the entire article at: The Royal Gazette 

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