Friday, July 17, 2009

Cruise Ship Gambling Bill Defeated in Bermuda

Much to the disappointment of the cruise lines and their passengers, cruise ships are not allowed to open their casinos while in port, regardless of the island. On most Caribbean or Bahamas itineraries the ship is in port no longer than early evening. The casinos are opened as the ship heads out to sea on its way to the next stop. However, on Bermuda itineraries the ship is often docked for several evenings on this beautiful island. Royal Caribbean's 5 night Bermuda itinerary spends two nights in port, while NCL ships dock for up to three nights. When the casinos are closed, it’s a great loss of revenue for the cruise line. For that reason, I’m sure all cruise line executives had great interest in what the Bermuda government was up to this past week. The news for them was not good.

On Friday Bermudian lawmakers rejected a bill that would have allowed cruise ships to open their casinos while docked overnight in the British Atlantic territory. The bill was opposed by church groups and politicians of both parties as they believed it would have paved the way for the relaxing of Bermuda's anti-gaming laws. Small business owners worried that cruisers would stay onboard ships in the evening rather than spend their money in Bermuda’s bars and nightclubs. On the flip side, others in the business community hoped passage of the bill would be a lure that would attract more cruise ships to Bermuda.

Despite the defeat, it is unlikely that this is a dead issue within the Bermudian government. The Premier, Ewart Brown, plans to reintroduce the bill again later this year. Stay tuned!

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