All bets are off after bookies fail to apply for relicensing in time
Betting shops across the island were shut down from yesterday after they failed to apply for licence renewals.
The Bermuda Gaming Commission said that there were four licensed betting operators on the island, who operated five shops, although only three of them have been open in the past three months.
Albert Steede, who operates Seahorses in Hamilton and Game Time in St George’s, said that he would be discussing his licences with the commission next week.
He added: “We just have to sort it out with the commission. I will be speaking to them on Tuesday to find out specifically what is required.”
A spokeswoman for the BGC said: “Whilst the commission can and has exercised discretion in the handling of the applications, there are some prescribed legislative requirements where the commission has no discretion.
“One such legislative requirement is that all licences expire on March 31 — and the commission has no legislative authority to extend licences beyond that date in the absence of a complete application.”
She explained that renewal applications should have been lodged at least three months before the licences expired.
The spokeswoman said the commission extended the deadline for the submission of the renewal for all applications by 30 days to January 31.
She added: “The commission further extended the deadline for the filing of applications for two of the betting shops who requested it.”
But the spokeswoman said: “Regrettably, the commission has not received one complete application that meets all mandatory, statutory requirements from existing licencees for renewal by the deadline of March 31.
“As a result, all four betting licences have expired, and betting shops must cease operations as of the end of March 31.”
She added: “The commission will continue to work with applicants once they have submitted a complete application as required by the legislation and will support all applications in this process.”
The spokeswoman said the BGC was given “new and more robust” powers to police the betting industry last August.
She added: “These changes are intended to ensure that gaming is conducted honestly and to reduce societal harm — for example, provisions prohibiting minors on the premises.”