Bermuda will let cruise ships open casinos and bars while in port

Big changes to the rules governing cruise ships visiting the country

The nation’s legislature has approved a plan to let ships operate shops, bars, casinos and other entertainment venues during the evening while in Bermuda’s port, a significant loosening of longstanding rules that have restricted on-board activity.

The paper says the change is designed to make Bermuda more competitive with other destinations. Most of the cruise ships that visit Bermuda spend multiple nights in port, and some legislators fear the existing rules restricting casino gambling and other entertainment options on ships have diminished the allure of a cruise to the destination.

„The common practice of prohibiting on-board revenue from shops, professional entertainment and casinos while ships are docked in Bermuda is … contributing to Bermuda’s loss of competitive advantage,“ Bermuda’s Premier Ewart Brown told the paper.

The move to allow gambling on the ships is controversial in a country where gambling is outlawed, and opposition party members fought the change on the grounds that it would open the door to gambling on land, too.

The Gazette says legislators also agreed to waive the USD 14 per cabin tax the country charges cruise ships docking in Hamilton and St. George’s for three years, starting in 2009. The country hopes to lure smaller, premium ships back to the ports.