* Photo by Kageaki Smith. ‘Look at the big picture’: Bahamas Tourism Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace
* Photo by Kageaki Smith. ‘Look at the big picture’: Bahamas Tourism Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace
The concerns about gaming are exaggerated while the benefits it brings in are extensive. That is the view of the Bahamas' Tourism Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace.

Mr. Vanderpool-Wallace told the Bermuda Sun: "Every jurisdiction struggles to take the leap to start off with. But it's important to see the bigger picture.

"It's not about casinos in your face and attracting gamblers. It's about providing an amenity that people can choose to take part in or not.

"The lesson we learned in the Bahamas was that the fears and concerns expressed before were exaggerated while many of the benefits and values of gaming were not appreciated.

"Bermuda has so many other positive attractions to have this "tie breaker" would advance its position."

Premier Dr. Ewart Brown said he believed there was a lot Bermuda could learn from the Bahamas: "There is always a lot to be learned from a country which has successfully provided gaming for some 40 plus years.

"We can learn from the infrastructure they put in place and the way in which the financial services are observed. We can look at how gaming has been woven into the country's fabric - no one down there considers it to be a big thing."

Mr. Vanderpool-Wallace was in Bermuda yesterday to speak about the implementation of gaming in his home country. The Bahamas has long been known for the Atlantis casino resort and its gaming culture which attracts thousands of tourists every month.

Mr. Vanderpool-Wallace told a gathering of Bermudian politicians from all sides that gaming was a significant factor that many people took into consideration when choosing a holiday destination.

He said: "If you don't have it you will not be as competitive as you want to be.

"In most cases it has nothing to do with going after dedicated gamblers and everything to do with having a tie-breaker. If you don't have it they choose to go somewhere else."

Mr. Vanderpool-Wallace added: "Gaming has become a very important part of the Bahamas.

"People associate us with sophisticated gaming - the James Bond style of gaming. Nassau Paradise Island was voted the number one for best night life.

"That is due to gaming - people like the atmosphere and entertainment of watching people in casinos - they do not have to take part."

He told the crowd that casinos had a knock-on effect on hotels and other industries. And Mr. Vanderpool-Wallace revealed that gaming had brought in millions of dollars and created around 2,000 jobs.

He said: "When Atlantis arrived the average room rates went up significantly even for places that did not invest in it.

"People begin to see it as added value to the destination.

"People who come to the Bahamas and have no interest in staying in Atlantis will still say Atlantis was part of that attraction."