House: casino site legislation passes
Legislation detailing how casino sites will be designated has been approved in the House of Assembly.
The Casino Gaming (Designated Sites) Regulations 2015, presented by Shawn Crockwell, the Minister of Tourism, lays out the application process for developers and property owners interested in building a casino.
The application process includes a non-refundable $50,000 fee and does not guarantee a licence to operate a casino, which must be sought through a separate process.
Jamahl Simmons, the Shadow Minister of Tourism, said that while the Opposition believed casinos could benefit Bermudians, the sometimes controversial handling of the issue by the Bermuda Government had caused some concerns.
He said the regulations before the House were fairly standard and similar to those in other jurisdictions, but stressed the need to be proactive in addressing the negative social effects of gaming and creating training opportunities for Bermudians.
“We need to start preparing our people, not just for entry-level roles but leadership roles,” he said. “We cannot wait until the eleventh hour.”
Opposition leader Marc Bean noted the regulation stating that existing tourist sites could apply to become a designated site, stating he was under the impression that only integrated resorts would be eligible.
Mr Crockwell said legislation was changed through amendments to allow existing tourist sites to apply in the event that they wished to expand and become an eligible resort. While this would not likely be an option for resorts on small properties, it could be feasible on larger ones.
He noted that becoming a designated site could potentially increase property value and encourage outside investment, although not every property would be suitable for designation and the plan was still to issue only three casino licences.
“We don't expect and influx of applications,” he said. “Serious candidates are prepared to do what's necessary and go through the process and pay the fee to get designated.”
Mr Crockwell also noted that talks have already taken place between the Bermuda College and the Bermuda Casino Gaming Council, and that the intention is that the training of Bermudians will begin a year before the first casino opens.