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Casino could be in play by early 2018

Bermuda could have a casino up and running in early 2018 if everything goes as planned, according to the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission.

Richard Schuetz, executive director at the commission, said a strategic plan on gaming was being developed, including training programmes to ensure Bermudians are ready for job opportunities.

US-based human resource expert and consultant Ann Anderson visited the island last week to meet local stakeholders about establishing training initiatives.

A press release from the Bermuda Hospitality Institute stated, according to Mr Schuetz: “Should everything go to plan, the island could have its first casino in the early part of 2018.”

Explaining Ms Anderson's involvement, Mr Schuetz said: “If you open up a casino in Vegas that's one thing, you can put out an ad to get the word out, but one of the challenges in Bermuda is this is a market that has historically not had legal commercial gambling.

“I asked Ann to come on board because she has more than 20 years' experience in the human resource sector. We started collaborating in 1991 and together opened seven casinos in a four-and-a-half-year period and Ann headed up those training efforts to get new staff ready and operating at the highest possible calibre.

“In every one of those markets, except one, it was what we call ‘virgin markets' that had not had gambling before — including Tunica County, Mississippi, which is the poorest county in the poorest state on the map. The challenges for training there were numerous. We also introduced casinos to a few Native American reservations where there were high levels of unemployment. Their training went beyond just job skills into life skills as well.”

Ms Anderson spoke to groups including the Bermuda College, the Bermuda Hospitality Institute, the Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Education about casino training.

“One of the things residents of the island have commented on is that within the hospitality industry there seems to be a lot of dead ends,” Ms Anderson said.

“You can get promoted once or twice but then you plateau because there aren't as many career avenues. Gaming will introduce many different types of jobs that will have new types of career paths for young people or those interested in making a career transition.”

She said that while initially experts might be brought in for some roles within the casino, the goal would be for such guest workers to “work themselves out of a job” within five to seven years.

“When we go into jurisdictions new to gaming, especially considering it is a highly regulated industry for very valid reasons, you have to be concerned about issues like anti-money laundering, and so the training process is gradual, but there is a lot of room for upward mobility,” she said.

“There are a number of jobs and skills from traditional sectors that are transferable to gaming. For instance, if someone worked in the bank as a teller or as an analyst — those skills can be transferred to being an analyst or cashier in the casino environment.

“People with good computer networking and operations skills could easily pick up gaming device computer skills; and those who worked in retail or on the front desk of a hotel could easily transition into a Players Club representative or host.”

Malika Cartwright, executive director at the Bermuda Hospitality Institute, said they were already looking into training options for Bermudians who are aiming to try their hand in the gaming industry.

“We have the skills sets on island, but will need to utilise outside resources and expertise to actually see this through to fruition,” Mrs Cartwright said.

“Unlike other industries, we have never had a casino in Bermuda before so we need to look at how we can get the best quality training to residents to ensure this is a success.

“We need to make sure the foundation is strong from day one when the doors first open. We don't want to be in a situation where we have to fix and Band-Aid situations.”

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Published February 28, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 28, 2017 at 12:23 am)

Casino could be in play by early 2018

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