Gaming commission to be given new identity
The island's casino gambling watchdog will take over responsibility for all types of betting if legislation tabled in the House of Assembly is passed.
David Burt, the Premier, said the Gaming (Transfer of Functions) Act 2020 would move supervision of the sector from the Betting Licensing Authority to the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, which has no casinos to regulate. The BCGC's remit would also include “other areas of gaming such as cruise ship casinos, raffles, lotteries and Crown & Anchor that require regulatory oversight”.
Mr Burt said the name of the commission would be changed from its existing name to reflect the additional responsibilities.
He added that putting all gaming “under one roof” would “promote greater efficiency and certainty in how gaming is regulated in Bermuda”.
Mr Burt said the BCGC would “continue to consult with local stakeholders and work through matters related to the operational transfer of these areas over the summer”.
He added that cashless gaming would be used to get past a banking hurdle to introduction gambling to the island.
The industry has had problems in getting suitable banking arrangements for its proceeds.
Mr Burt said that “two major stakeholders” had agreed to support cashless casino gaming.
He added that “a potential operator is engaged in final conversations with an on-island financial institution”.
Mr Burt said the commission had also found a preferred candidate, out of a shortlist of 12 international applicants, to take over as head of the commission.
The post is expected to be filled later this year.
Mr Burt said there had been no funding provided for the commission in this year's Budget. He added: “I can advise this Honourable House that draft audited financials for the fiscal year ended 31 March 2019 resulted in expenditure of around $2.1 million against a budget of $3.3 million.
“This result means the commission spent $1.2 million less than what was originally intended.”
Mr Burt said he had told Cabinet he would ask for its views on plans for gaming revenue to support “things like sports development, the arts, healthcare initiatives and education”.
He added: “There are successful models in other countries and I am confident that we can devise the same for Bermuda.”
Mr Burt said the Problem Gaming Council is working on a range of social responsibility programmes to protect “the vulnerable”.
He added they included the establishment of a baseline of empirical data and research about the gambling habits of residents, a review of social responsibility codes and an education campaign designed to promote responsible gambling.
Mr Burt said the casino gambling sector would create jobs for Bermudians. He added: “Training will be made available for Bermudians at all levels of the industry. This is a critical component of any development of casino gambling in Bermuda.”
Mr Burt said “local counsellors and faith-based leaders” were being trained to achieve accreditation as international certified gambling counsellors and that the final eight-week phase of training would start next month.