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Panel debates problem gambling

Issues including the role technology can play in limiting problem gambling were explored by gaming industry experts at a town hall meeting this week.

Organised by the Progressive Labour Party, the event examining safe and responsible gambling was held at Elbow Beach Resort on Wednesday night.

Panellists Jason Seelig and Jamie Lee, president and vice-president respectively with Banyan Gaming, barrister and solicitor Tibor Vertes, and Damien Furbert, CEO of Gamebouts Electronic Sports, discussed some of the issues surrounding the coming of casino gaming to Bermuda.

Kim Wilson, PLP MP and event moderator, said the event — the first of a planned series — was to look at whether Bermuda was examining gaming in the “safest way possible”.

“This is where we are — we're going down this road and our questions have to be are we going to be doing it the best way possible,” she said.

The island, Mr Seelig said, is in a unique position.

“Bermuda has one opportunity that most jurisdictions don't have right now — it's starting with a fresh plate,” he said. Whereas most jurisdictions develop technology to meet existing regulations, Mr Seelig said Bermuda was not bound by this situation.

“Theft, money laundering, gambling addiction — all the problems that are associated with gaming are addressable through technology,” he said.

While technology allows the identification of problem gaming, it still requires people to help the player. It can, however, help to provide information before a problem gambler has hit rock bottom, Mr Seelig said.

“One of the problems is by the time you find out, they've lost their money,” he said.

“To me, through technology, you can address that. We can see how people's betting behaviours are.”

The topic of cashless gaming also figured prominently into the town hall event.

“You have the opportunity right now to say, this is how the business is going to be,” Mr Seelig said. “If you do that, people will play on that system.”

As an island, Bermuda will have a “captive audience”, Mr Lee said.

“They're going to adapt any technology you do choose to move forward with.”

As an example to support implementing a cashless system, Mr Seelig pointed to “little old ladies” who carry hundreds of dollars worth of cash to casinos in the United States.

“Think of how crazy that is,” he said. “You don't pay your bills any more with cash. You use your phone and you pay your bill. Why? Because it's secure, it's safe.”

Mr Vertes said that the only people who wouldn't want a cashless system were those looking to launder illegally obtained money. Electronic sports were also discussed, including the possibility of casinos hosting events for their players.

“This will also help increase Bermuda tourism,” Mr Furbert said.

Electronic sports, Mr Seelig said, were one of the fastest growing segments of the gaming business. “Every gaming company is looking at this right now.”

Industry discussion: from left, Tibor Vertes, Damien Furbert, Jamie Lee and Jason Seelig

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Published May 05, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 05, 2017 at 8:19 am)

Panel debates problem gambling

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