Bets are off as gaming shops fail to lodge licence applications
Gambling enthusiasts are still unable to place bets at gaming venues on the island, which remain shut down.
Licences for four operators – Triple Crown Racing, Seahorses, Paradise Games and Game Time – expired at the end of March, at which time they were forced to close.
Almost nine months later, none of the operators have submitted applications to the Bermuda Gaming Commission for new licences.
Charmaine Smith, the commission’s chief executive officer, told The Royal Gazette: “I can advise that no applications for betting licences have been received.”
This week doors of a number of betting shops in Hamilton, including Seahorses on Queen Street and Triple Crown Racing on Victoria Street, remained firmly shut.
A representative from Triple Crown Racing said by telephone that the company was still considering applying for a new license, but refused to answer further questions.
The Bermuda Gaming Commission took over from the Betting Licensing Authority as the regulator of betting shops last August.
Shortly afterwards, businesses were advised to submit licence renewals for the 2022-23 financial year by the end of December, 2021. That deadline was later extended to January 31 this year.
Despite the extension, none of the companies submitted renewal applications and had to shut up shop on March 31.
One betting enthusiast, who asked not to be named, said that it was a mystery why several “flourishing” businesses had all closed after the gaming commission was given oversight of the industry.
“It’s a shame because a group of us would enjoy a flutter every now and then. But now there’s nowhere to go – even with the World Cup being on.”
The customer said he had contacted the commission to find out if any licences were in the pipeline.
He said: “Whenever I call, they get very defensive and very hostile – even though I’m not asking for specifics.
“I wonder if the commission is being too strict. We had five flourishing businesses here, and, soon after the commission took over, they all disappeared.”
After the Bermuda Gaming Commission was given authority to police the industry, it was given “new and more robust” powers.
Earlier this year a commission spokeswoman said: “These changes are intended to ensure that gaming is conducted honestly and to reduce societal harm – for example, provisions prohibiting minors on the premises.
“The process for developing this new regulatory framework and legislation was initiated over two years ago and included extensive industry consultations.
“The new legislation, the Betting Act 2021, establishes very specific requirements for the operation of betting shops in Bermuda. The commission has over the last several months reached out to existing operators and prospective betting shop operators to ensure that they were aware of these requirements.”