What we do at the casino gaming commission
With casino gaming now authorised on the island, the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission will work to ensure that the protection of public integrity is at the core of all gaming activities. To accomplish this, here are five significant areas of interest on which gaming regulators will focus.
The first area of interest to a gaming regulator typically is referred to as suitability testing, and it has to do with ensuring that the owners, operators, managers, employees, vendors and sources of finance are free from any inappropriate past associations and behaviours, and represent high ethical standards.
This is done for two reasons: the first is to protect the image of the industry because if a person with a bad past becomes a part of a casino operation, it can tarnish the image of the whole industry; the second reason is that our suitability testing is based on the theory that if someone behaved in an inappropriate fashion in the past, the probability of them behaving badly in the future is increased. We therefore work to ensure that people with a record of bad conduct do not participate in the industry.
The second area of concern to the gaming regulator addresses operational and financial controls. These are the regulations, policies and procedures that control how things are done within and around a casino operation.
These controls act to ensure that the assets of the operation are safeguarded appropriately and concern such areas from working to minimise the risk of money laundering to making sure that a wager was paid correctly.
This area of regulatory interest can become very complex, as there are thousands and thousands of transactions performed within a casino every day and processes must be in place to mitigate the risk of any of these transactions being performed incorrectly.
The third area of interest for the gaming regulator is to ensure that all fees, taxes and related payments are appropriately accounted for and paid. You may have watched various old movies about casinos and heard the expression “skimming”. This refers to skimming money out of the casino before the tax calculation is applied, and was a form of tax avoidance in the previous era of gaming. The job of the regulator is correctly to monitor all taxable streams to ensure that they are accurately reported and the right taxes are paid.
The fourth area of regulatory concern is to ensure that the games offered are fair, honest and operate with a high degree of integrity and security.
When one plays a casino game, they expect there to be four aces in each deck of cards, that the outcome of a slot machine is determined randomly, and that the roulette wheel is true and balanced. In short, the regulator is there to ensure that the games are not subject to any deception or manipulation. This area has become very complex over the years with the technological innovations surrounding many of the games, especially slot machines.
The last area of great concern to the gaming regulator is to provide protections for the vulnerable. They can include individuals under a certain age, where the regulators work to ensure that safeguards are in place ranging from keeping the under-aged away from the gaming experience to protections for those individuals who suffer from problem or pathological issues with gaming.
The activity of gaming can be experienced with an appropriate balance by the vast majority of people, but there is a small percentage that struggles in keeping that balance. It is there that measures and treatment options should be in place to assist these individuals.
There has been a great deal of research across the globe over the past decade in this area, with advances in both methods to mitigate the risk and to treat the affected. The modern regulatory agency needs to stay abreast of this science to ensure that the appropriate programmes and controls are in place.
• Richard Schuetz is the executive director of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission