Tuesday, April 6, 2010
There’s been plenty of debate about whether or not Bermuda should build a casino to attract more tourists. Some think it will increase visitation and make the island a more attractive destination for east coast travelers. Others think a casino will degrade society and bring with it social ills that have plagued places like Las Vegas. And while both sides have valid opinions I thought I’d offer a few of my own—because a little spirited discourse never hurt anyone, right? But first a quick story. Once upon a time there was a newly engaged man from New York City who was planning his bachelor party with his best friends and family. They drafted up all sorts of ideas for the big day: A baseball game in Queens followed by a boisterous steak dinner in Manhattan, a daylong fishing charter in Long Island, a weekend jaunt to Las Vegas. And then there was Atlantic City, New Jersey—a suggestion made not only for the gaming, but for its world-class restaurants, nearby golf courses, access to the beach and best of all, its proximity to New York. After all, Atlantic City was only a two-and-a-half hour drive from Manhattan. Most people could get there in less than three hours. Suddenly one of the groom-to-be’s friends spoke up. “But guys, what about Bermuda? It’s got better restaurants, better beaches, better golf courses and it’s closer! We could all be there in under two hours and at the blackjack tables just thirty minutes later.” And then the man woke up from his dream because there are no casinos in Bermuda, which is exactly my point. Look, I’m not saying a casino is a silver bullet for tourism. Nothing is. But it would provide an attractive option for folks looking for a little pizzazz during their next vacation. Just think of the potential: Nightlife, dancing, live music, the works. Yes, a casino may indeed attract nefarious people looking to capitalize on the perceived criminal elements involved in running such an endeavour, but I just can’t see how the cons outweigh the pros. There’ll be job creation, economic stimulus and an added source of tourism revenue. Haven’t you ever heard the phrase the house always wins? Build it in Dockyard where tourists can have a world-class gaming experience. Or even better, St. George's where a casino might help revitalize a town in need. As the saying goes, if you build it they will come. I say build it and turn that dream into reality.