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Blakeney leaves gaming commission

Sudden exit: Deborah Blakeney, the former general counsel for the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission

The acting executive director of the island’s gambling watchdog has left her post, The Royal Gazette can reveal.

Deborah Blakeney, general counsel at the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, had headed up the public authority after the resignation of Richard Schuetz, who left Bermuda in December 2017.

Her departure leaves the positions of both executive director and general counsel vacant, and means the commission’s four-man executive team has been halved.

The commission said on Thursday that Ms Blakeney was “no longer with us” and that Julie Grant, the chief financial officer, was now acting in the executive director role.

Ms Grant did not return a call from The Royal Gazette.

The other executive officer is Roger Trott, director of problem and responsible gaming.

Cheryl-Ann Mapp, the commission chairwoman, did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment on the gaps in the management team.

Ms Mapp was appointed as chairwoman in November 2017, after former chairman Alan Dunch resigned in protest at the Government’s decision to bring the independent commission under ministerial control.

Garry Madeiros and Derek Ramm, both commissioners, also resigned.

They were replaced by Jonathan Smith, a former police commissioner and Progressive Labour Party senator, and Daniel Reece, a businessman and former police officer.

Deputy chairwoman Judith Hall-Bean and Dennis Tucker remained on the board.

Mr Smith declined to comment when contacted by The Royal Gazette and none of the other commissioners could be reached.

The BCGC, which became the responsibility of finance minister Curtis Dickinson in November, is in the process of creating a regulatory framework for casino gaming on the island.

It released a set of regulations in October designed to ensure games are fair, honest and played with “security and integrity”, with a second set promised in the near future.

No casinos have yet opened in Bermuda.

The commission has been given at least $5.4 million in public money since it was set up in 2015, but recently refused to release its financial statements to The Royal Gazette after a public access to information request.

Its annual reports from September 2015 to March 2017 were tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday, when it was discovered that the Government plans to distance itself financially by advising the commission to seek commercial funding in future.

A notice posted in the Official Gazette in January revealed the regulator had spent almost $600,000 on legal services over the past two years, in addition to Ms Blakeney’s salary, which the annual report gave as between $170,000 and $210,000 a year.

A Ministry of Finance spokeswoman said: “The Ministry of Finance will provide an update on the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission in due course. Personnel matters at the BCGC should be addressed by the BCGC.”

Wayne Scott, a former One Bermuda Alliance politician who joined the commission as chief technical officer after leaving Cabinet in April 2017, is understood to have left his job last year.

The post of chief technical officer, responsible for the maintenance of electronic processes at the BCGC and compliance, is no longer listed on the commission’s organisational chart.