Half-year gaming consultant fees top $160,000

Bermuda’s gambling watchdog spent more than $160,000 on consultants in the second half of last year.

The cash was largely spent on an effort to tackle problems with finding a bank in Bermuda with links to a corresponding bank overseas that was willing to accept casino-generated deposits.

Julie Grant, the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission chief financial officer, said on Friday the consultants’ fees outlined in Parliament by Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, reflected the commission’s work with Bermudian-based Rose Investment.

Ms Grant said the work with the consultants, taken on in September last year, had gone “very positively”.

The new industry has had trouble finding a Bermuda bank doing business with a corresponding overseas bank that would accept casino earnings.

The breakdown of figures, in response to questions from Michael Dunkley, an Opposition MP, revealed that the publicly funded regulator spent a total of almost $840,000 from July 1 to December 31 last year.

Mr Dickinson said $381,101 went on salaries and wages, with $161,309 on consultants’ fees during the six-month period.

The BCGC also spent $52,758 on rent, $112,186 on administration, $49,364 on general overheads and $82,136 on “other” expenses. The commission last published details of its contracts valued at $50,000 or more in the Official Gazette just over a year ago.

Ms Grant said the salaries and wages numbers included payroll tax, medical and social insurance, and pensions.

The figure for administration costs covered office supplies, communications and legal services to the commissioners’ fees.

Ms Grant said that general overheads comprised maintenance, land tax, utilities and building service charges, while “other” represented bank fees.

Mr Dickinson told MPs the BCGC got a $500,000 grant from the Government for this financial year on top of the $3.2 million budgeted. Ms Grant said the latter figure represented a projected budget.

She added: “The BCGC does not anticipate spending this amount in actual costs.”

Ms Grant said the actual figure was estimated to total about $2.5 million.

Mr Dunkley said that Mr Dickinson told Parliament last July there were three priorities for the gaming commission, filling the post of executive director, finding a corresponding banking partner and progressing legislation.

Mr Dickinson said a candidate for the director’s role had since withdrawn and the commission had “re-engaged the management services recruitment firm to identify a capable and qualified executive director”, to replace former director Richard Schuetz, who left the six-figure salary job in 2017.

The minister added there had been “considerable progress” on the banking front.

Mr Dickinson said that work on gaming legislation had also gone well.

He added: “We are, by and large, done with the framework. There’s additional work to be done on betting and that will be coming in the coming months.”

The BCGC was set up in 2015 to establish and regulate a casino gaming industry in Bermuda.

The quango was expected to eventually be funded entirely by fees for casino licences — but none have opened.

The BCGC received $5.4 million in public funding between 2015 and 2018.

Mr Dickinson told the House last July that the commission cost more than $2.5 million to run for the 15-month period from April 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 — an average of $167,545 a month.

The commission had six full-time staff in June last year — a chief financial officer, a director of problem and responsible gaming, a legal analyst a business analyst, and two administrative staff.

Ms Grant added the BCGC had five staff last month and that employee numbers had fluctuated between six and seven staff over the six-month time frame reported on in the House of Assembly.

To view the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission figures for July 1 to December 31, 2019, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

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Published Feb 10, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 10, 2020 at 6:54 am)

Half-year gaming consultant fees top $160,000

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